The trolley is an example of the work of George Freedman, one of the most influential interior designers to work in Sydney. It is also an artefact of the 'designer' restaurant boom of the 1980s.
George Freedman and Tony Bilson were leaders in Sydney design and hospitality. Bilson's Berowra Waters Inn, designed by Glenn Murcutt during the late 1970s, set the mould for the marriage of creative food in carefully designed settings. Bilson brought this concept to the city in 1982 when he commissioned Murcutt and Freedman to turn the Charles Kinsela funeral parlour into a brasserie, bar and cabaret complex. Originally designed in 1933 by Bruce Dellit, Sydney's leading exponent of Art Deco, the success and spectacle of Kinselas inspired numerous similar projects, some designed by Freedman alumni.
As well as Bilson's 1988 restaurant at West Circular Quay, these included the Wharf restaurant (1986) designed by Vivian Fraser, Rockpool (1989) and the Burdekin Dug Out bar (1988) by Stephen Roberts and Bill MacMahon, Darley Street Thai (1991) and Sailors Thai (1995) by Burley Katon Halliday.
A feature of these projects was an encompassing aesthetic of all elements, extending beyond furniture and decoration to functional fittings. They also followed Freedman's formula in embellishing the symmetry and simplicity of Modernism with colour and contrasting materials and decoration. This latter element is a feature of the Bilson's drinks trolley, an exotic survivor of Sydney's boom decade.
Charles Pickett, Curator.