Salone Spotlight: Faye Toogood on ‘Roly Poly’

  • In the build up to this week’s Salone del Mobile, we visit designer Faye Toogood’s studio as they undertake final preparations for the fair
    moodboards faye toogood
    Interview Betty Wood
    Photography Liz Seabrook
    Above: mood board shots and sketches of the tapestry pinned to the studio wall

    Though it’s over in a matter of days, preparing for the Salone del Mobile – the biggest event on the international design schedule – takes months of dedicated planning. In the build up to this year’s fair, which opens tomorrow, we visited the Toogood studio as they packed up Assemblage #4 for presentation in Milan. Between the boxes, photographer Liz Seabrook snapped the coat range, prototypes and moodboards as designer Faye Toogood talked us through her presentation.

  • clay prototypes and models
    This week in Milan, I’ll be presenting my new six-piece collection, called Roly Poly and Indigo Storm, a range of ceramic designs for 1882 Ltd.

    I’ve got fat. Gone are the angles, hard lines and dark colour schemes of previous collections in favour of voluptuousness and creaminess. Roly-Poly reflects my journey of becoming a mother and seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

    Above: Initial clay models of the collection, which demonstrate the rounded shapes consistent throughout

    It includes chairs that look like baby elephants, an Element Table seemingly carved out of melting lard, and a pregnant-looking daybed, as well as a tapestry depicting a still-life drawing of some play bricks.

    All of the furniture is assembled using raw and creamy fibreglass. We’ve been working with a manufacturer that normally makes boats. Though the use of fibreglass in itself is not particularly new – it has been used in furniture design for the last 50 years, particularly by designers such as Eames – we’ve left it raw, in beautiful milky, creamy tones. It’s a very natural colour palette.

  • fibreglass
    Above: fibreglass shells, demonstrating the natural colour palette used in the collection

  • toogood outerwearLast September, I launched Toogood in Paris with my sister Erica. It’s a range of unisex outerwear coats. We’ve shown there twice, and the collection has just reached stockists now. Erica is a pattern cutter by trade, and the collection is very much about celebrating manufacturing, industry, and the individual’s trade.

    Every coat has a trade name: the Beekeeper, the Chemist, the Road-sweeper, the Milkman and the Oil-Rigger. In terms of finishes, we have used everything from industrial rubbering and hand-painting to screen-printing on a simple canvas base.

    Above: Coats hanging on the rail. The collection will be presented at the Salone del Mobile

    Alongside this, we have worked with some of the few British mills left producing lambswool, merino wool felt (normally used on factory conveyer belts) and cashmere entirely on site.

    In each coat there’s a giant label with the name of the trade, the shopkeeper selling it, and the initials of all the people involved in making the coat, from the designer through to pattern cutter and seamstress. It’s almost like a ‘passport’ for the coat, and it’s very much about drawing attention to the number of people involved in making a garment.

  • toogood clothing range
    I’m bringing the collection of fashion coat to a furniture based design fair, so it’ll be really interesting to see how the other designers react to that.

    Above: Label detail showing the craftsmen involved in making every individual coat

    When we were designing these coats, we had in mind that we were almost creating a uniform for designers and artists and architects – I’m eager to see how these people will respond to a collection essentially made with them in mind. We don’t want to define people with our coats, but it’s difficult to find something that you can work in that’s also inclusive, whether you’re 25 or 55.

  • the Beekeeper
    Beyond my presentation, Milan is always a really great week for me. I find it very inspiring, not just in terms of seeing other designers’ work, but also meeting them socially, which is equally rewarding. I enjoy absorbing the Milanese culture whilst I’m there too, going to galleries and enjoying the local food, because the Salone is more about the culture of design than simply the launch of a new furniture range.

    Salone del Mobile runs 8-13 April

    Above: Detailing on the Beekeeper coat. Its geometric neckline reflects the honeycomb shape of the wax cells inside a beehive