It is almost impossible to understand the complete ramifications of “being free”. Every human is subjected to a kind of brain washing when they are raised, be it by parents, care givers, schools, etc. It is inevitable and, in a normal upbringing, helps the child to adjust to society. Of course, the traits inherent in the child will surface eventually, but the child is no more free of them than of his upbringing. In a way, we are all destined to be a certain way.
Furniture design in the 18th century appears, in retrospect, to be a fluid continuum. One has to understand, however, that almost every piece of English furniture at this time was made to order. There is no doubt that the maker and pattern books influenced the client, but ultimately, it was the craftsman creating the piece who translated it into reality. It was his quirks and methods that made the piece. And yet, he could not be help but be influenced as well. The continuum is not fluid, but it is there.
Creating design work from scratch is, one thinks, a creative endeavor. However, what is out there is like a beating drum that you cannot get away from. It is no wonder that artists keep trying to find a way to be original. It is not unlike trying to be free. With human beings, however, I would say that critical thought is the only way to be free. As for all those designers creating buildings, cars, furniture, etc., your best shot is to create something that is either beautiful or which works extremely well.