Five key projects by designer and Dezeen Awards judge Faye Toogood

February 22, 2024

By Elisa Baran


          London-based designer Faye Toogood has joined Dezeen Awards 2024 as a judge. Here, she selects five projects that best reflect her work.


          While the founder of the contemporary British brand Toogood identifies herself as a designer, with work spanning interiors, objects, furnitureclothing and art, her practice is often referred to as multidisciplinary.


          “For myself, I like the word tinker. I tinker with a lot of things, but I’m a master of nothing. I like working in interiors, objects, furniture, clothing and art,” she told Dezeen.


          “There’s less of a defined rulebook because of that, helped also by the fact I didn’t study design but fine art and history of art.”


          “I’m a designer, not an artist”


          The British designer considers her design philosophy to be deeply rooted in four fundamental principles.


          “My work is and has always been rooted in four integral concepts, or four ways of seeing, which are drawing, material, sculpture and landscape,” said Toogood.


          “I don’t see any difference between a coat, a chair or an interior. The approach and the ethos are the same,” she continued. “Everything I do and the studio does is relevant – it has a place, it is desired and it’s not just for me. That’s why I’m a designer, not an artist.”



Roly-Poly, 2014


          “The Roly-Poly chair has been recognised as an iconic design of the last decade. Launched in 2014 as part of Assemblage 4, its smooth, rounded, voluptuous shape was inspired by my experience of motherhood.


          “Further editions of the Roly-Poly chair have explored working with different solid materials and finishes, from brushed aluminium to gold leaf. Assemblage 5, entitled Earth, Moon, Water pushed the boundaries of manufacture with chairs cast in solid cob composite, patinated bronze and crystal barium glass.


          “With its four plump legs and dish-shaped seat, the Roly-Poly chair’s generous form has evolved into dining chairs, stools, drawers and a cantilever desk. Examples of the Roly-Poly sit comfortably in leading global museum collections, as well as comfortable and beautiful homes.


          “I had children and then Roly-Poly came. Round, full, soft. I developed a raw fibreglass where the fibres are exposed. In this primordial jelly finish, fibreglass has its glow. It is incredibly durable and has such a unique personality, meaning that no two pieces are the same.”


Assemblage 7: Lost and Found, 2023

          “This is my third solo exhibition with Friedman Benda. The roots of this body of work are signalled in the title, which implies an archaeological situation, things that have been somehow lost from view, and then reclaimed.


          “The two materials used have a powerful resonance in British history. Oak is the country’s most reliable building timber and was the principal choice for furniture in the medieval era. Those simple, muscular forms were beloved of the British arts and crafts, and exert their evident influence here.


          “Particularly when gathered together, the pieces recall the rings of the shaped standing stones that are Britain’s most ancient works of art. I felt like I was revealing something that had always been there. Something almost prehistoric that had been lost to time, and it was my job to find it again.


          “A friend told me they thought that the pieces were romantic. I think there’s a lot of love in there, love, connection, relationships, intimacy, as well as the landscape of the body, bodies together, ageing and growing.”


Collection 020 / SS24


          “Collection 020 has a rebellious and playful spirit, inspired by painter Philip Guston. Initially a member of the abstract expressionist brotherhood, he later turned his back on all that painterly purity with an outpouring of visceral, brutish, figurative and pink work, greeted with absolute horror by the critics.


          “This collection reasserts our parameters and reaffirms what is important about Toogood and made with Toogood’s chuck-it-on pleasurable ease: nothing too structured, but still with a sense of sculptural scale.


          “I think Toogood is often considered quite a monochrome brand and I wanted to chuck that in the bin. In Collection 020 you’ll find a lot of electric-bright, life-giving pink. I wanted there to be a sense of drama and play in the collection – something of the dressing-up box.


          “Ten years ago Erica and I created Toogood clothing from a place of rebellion – it was very black and quite angry. I don’t necessarily feel angry now, I’m looking for joy, laughter and playfulness.”


Dough Collection


          “The Dough range – named to highlight the common ground of kneading in both baking and pottery – comprises five pieces: a mug, a jug, a platter, a bowl, and a vase. It is the studio’s first dedicated collection of ceramic homeware.


          “Hand-shaped in Toogood studio before being cast in stoneware, the pieces share a pared-back yet playful simplicity. The mugs and pitchers boast chunky, outsized handles, while the platter has a rounded swelling quality that calls to mind rising dough.


          “The Dough collection began with the mug and the jug being hand sculpted, reshaped along the way for the right grip. The plump, swelling forms were then used to design the bowl, platter, and vase.


          “The inspiration first came whilst I was exploring common items from the kitchen such as the soft volumes of rising dough and hand-shaped leavened pastries. Being able to translate those experiences and forms into functional yet sculptural pieces has been thrilling, and represents an important moment for the studio.”


Esquisses, Toogood x Maison Matisse, 2023


          “Esquisses is a new collection of furniture and rugs with Maison Matisse, launched at Milan Design week. Founded by Henri Matisse’s descendants, Maison Matisse is a house of design objects inspired by the artist’s work.


          “Using drawing as the starting point, I worked on creating a library of gestures, lines and shapes responding to motifs in Matisse’s sketches, I kept coming back to a series of table still life drawings Matisse made in the 40s. Fruits, vegetables, and household objects, all rendered in his eloquent, essential line.


          “We ended up with more than one hundred sketches and initially just to catalogue them, we chose the best 24 and stuck them together in a concertina book. That format immediately suggested rugs and a blanket and so those were the first pieces we developed.


          “The rug is made from natural wool, so it’s only colours found in sheep. Perhaps it’s the contrarian in me, as Matisse is so known for his colour, but I wanted to keep the whole collaboration in a palette of neutral shades. It’s all about the line and shape.


          “We created an upholstered armchair and stool, and a coffee table, all developed from the shapes and gestures found in the sketching process. The finished pieces all have the energy and slight irregularity of a drawing.”


Read more about Toogood x Maison Matisse ›


Dezeen Awards 2024 in partnership with BentleyDezeen Awards is the ultimate accolade for architects and designers across the globe. The seventh edition of the annual awards programme is in partnership with Bentley as part of a wider collaboration to inspire, support and champion design excellence and showcase innovation that creates a better and more sustainable world. This ambition complements Bentley’s architecture and design business initiatives, including the Bentley Home range of furnishings and real estate projects around the world.
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