Some designs take a few years to reach the title of ‘Future Classic’. However, in the case of the Roly Poly Chair, designed by UK-based designer, Faye Toogood, it caused a sensation as soon as it was released in 2014 as part pf the Assemblage 4 Collection.
Faye, who studied art history at the University of Bristol before becoming an interior stylist for the magazine The World of Interiors, was already making waves in the industry when she established Toogood in 2008, with her sister Erica.
Together, they worked on everything from bespoke fashion to household products and interiors. One of Toogood’s first collections was a range of coats where the duo reached out to people in specific professional fields, such as psychologists, asking what type of coat a psychologist, for example would wear?
Since, Faye has blossomed in the design world, including the display of a number of her art and furniture installations at the National Gallery of Victoria’s Triennale in 2021. The Roly Poly Chair formed part of this exhibition, albeit in the form of lithium barium crystal rather than in the mass-produced version of rotationally moulded polyurethane in a sumptuous range of colours from ochre, red brick, charcoal and cream and in what’s referred to as ‘flesh’.
Irrespective of which colours of the Roly Poly are selected or whether or not it’s placed indoors or outside on a terrace or poolside, this joyous design is imbued with a child-like quality. Often described as having ‘stumpy’ legs, the Roly Poly chair is certainly voluptuous – Faye drew on her experience of pregnancy and motherhood to create this unique design. She was also quoted at the time of its release as saying, “some people saw a baby elephant while others saw a 1960s pop chair.”
For Space Grace & Style director and interior designer Rebecca Jansma, the Roly Poly Chair is a regular suggestion to her clients looking for furniture that’s functional, flexible and also has personality. “It’s quite anthropomorphic, with its short animal-like legs,” Rebecca says, who also appreciates the choice of material. “Fibreglass is generally quite severe, but there’s a softness to this chair, both to the touch as well as to the eye,” Rebecca says, who also likes the fact that it can be added to with a cushion. And although many place the Roly Poly outdoors, Rebecca feels it’s too precious to be outside. “I prefer to see it placed in a corner, whether in a living area or as a side chair in a bedroom.”
Rebecca not only has a soft spot for the Roly Poly chair but also the diversity of Faye’s practice, including collaborations with leading designers such as Bill Amberg, who is at the pinnacle of the leather industry in the United Kingdom. Together they produced a limited-edition collection of digitally printed leather hides that brought a level of artistry to the raw leather hide. “It seems whatever Toogood does is simply, without being cliched, too good,” Rebecca adds.