Faye Toogood is a British designer whose works have become part of the permanent collections in many museums.
Despite this success, she describes herself as an artist, and not a designer. Her modesty is a product of her intriguing journey into design. Toogood grew up an explorer, and finds herself not fitting into the box of a typical designer.Growing up in rural England, Toogood developed an interest in foraging and collecting things around her quite early. Her collection of sticks and rocks as she describes it, have followed her through life. For Toogood's first job interview at World of Interiors, she carried a box of her collection along. While working as the Interiors Editor for the magazine, she used this instinct to curate collections and spaces. And when she founded her own studio in 2008, her collection became inspiration for her pieces. Many of her works are, in essence, an evolution of her collection.
Having graduated with a BA in Art History, Toogood felt out of place in the design world. She didn’t feel comfortable calling herself a designer, or calling her works collections - which is why her works go by the name “assemblages”. Even though Faye Toogood didn’t go the traditional route of iconic designers, her designs are still iconic. Perhaps that’s why it's said “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”. Toogood’s designs are eccentric and avant-garde; designs that would have functionalist designers up in arms. They are more about experimentation than practicality, exploring materials and shapes in unconventional ways.
In each of her assemblages, Toogood toys with new materials and concepts. This has led to the creation of some of her renowned designs like the Element Table, Spade Chair and the Roly Poly Chair. The Element Table and the Spade Chair were part of her very first collection - Assemblage 1. In this collection, she worked with wood, brass, stone, and traditional joinery techniques. The Element Table is a glass top table supported by three different elements - a wooden sphere, a stone cube, and a brass cylinder. The table is an interpretation of the three main materials, delicately composed to create a beautiful design. The design for the Spade chair draws on Toogood’s childhood in the English countryside. Taking inspiration from the traditional milking stool and a spade, the spade chair expertly combines the forms of both. The chair takes on a minimalist form to become a functional yet artistic piece of furniture.
Toogood has released many designs in each of her Assemblages that shows her creative inventiveness. Along with these, she also creates new variants of her existing designs regularly. However, the piece that established Faye Toogood’s status as a cult designer is the Roly Poly Chair. Designed as part of Assemblage 4, the Roly Poly Chair is unlike any chair ever made. Made using molded polyethylene, the design consists of a rounded seat resting on four stocky legs. It is an unconventional chair design that combines soft shapes with hard materials. Inspired by motherhood, the bowl shaped seating projects a soft and welcoming appearance. This iconic design has later been redesigned with materials like aluminum, and expanded into a family of furniture.
Faye Toogood's work with unusual materials and designs shows that design should not be static. Furniture, clothing and even materials can take on varied forms over time, and it is only by breaking out of the norm that it is possible to determine what the future of design can be.