We sat down with multidisciplinary designer Faye Toogood during the September edition of MAISON&OBJET and Paris Design Week 2023.

Describing herself as somewhat of a ‘tinker’, Faye Toogood’s career began as editor of World of Interiors before founding her namesake studio in 2008. Now, her practice encompasses all facets of design, including interiors, furniture, homewares, fine art, fashion and accessories.

As part of the 2023 Spring/Summer edition of MAISON&OBJET, we caught up with Faye Toogood at her ‘Designer’s Studio’ stand to understand how she designs across disciplines, the studio’s most recent collaborations and the impact of Brexit.

Stay tuned for est living’s on-the-ground reportage at Maison&Objet from Thursday, 18 January to Monday, 22 January 2024.

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The Spade chair, Dough vase and Dough Platter.

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The Dough mug, pitcher, vase, wide bowl and platter.

As a product, fashion and interior designer, how does your approach to these disciplines intersect? On the other hand, how do they differ?

Faye Toogood: Interestingly, I began my journey in interiors, then transitioned to furniture, and eventually delved into clothing and fashion. This progression felt intuitive to me, much like the process of drawing. When sketching, you typically start with the room, then add details like the chair and the mug before finally capturing the person and what they’re wearing. Granted, things aren’t always as neatly connected in the real world. Manufacturing processes differ, distribution varies, and each market poses unique challenges. Despite these daily business challenges, what’s truly inspiring is seeing our customers embody this holistic vision. 

They’re not just wearing the clothes; they also have the furniture and the homewares. It’s a beautiful convergence. Admittedly, aligning all these elements takes time in the real world because every market approaches Toogood differently. In Japan, it might be clothes first, then objects and furniture. In Europe, it’s often through interiors, leading to an appreciation of furniture, with clothing awareness catching up later. It’s intriguing to see how each market discovers Toogood in its own way. This diversity means everyone is invited to explore the brand from a different perspective.

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The Sculpture table | Photography courtesy of Toogood

Your highly conceptual approach has led to collaborations with brands such as Birkenstock, Carhartt, Bitossi and cc-tapis. Is it hard to ensure you cultivate a unique visual message for each?

Faye Toogood: It’s not difficult at all; in fact, it’s quite a joy. Collaborations, when executed well, are genuinely special. As a studio, we often decline more collaborations than we accept because it’s not just a casual project for us – it’s a true partnership that requires a substantial investment. Without that commitment, collaborations can be energy-draining with minimal returns. We dedicate significant effort to our collaborations and prefer working with partners who share the same level of dedication. Our evaluation includes examining their manufacturing processes, materials used, ethos, approach and, of course, the people we’ll be collaborating with. 

I particularly appreciate it when collaborators invite us into their factory, throw open their factory doors and say, ‘Let’s figure this out together.’ Those who take this approach tend to bring out the best in us. Collaborations are truly life-giving for the studio. Our collaboration with Birkenstock for example transformed our entire approach to projects. We delved into shoes, clothes, and even bedding – a rare breadth of involvement for our studio.

Based in the UK, how has Brexit impacted your studio?

Faye Toogood: It has indeed had a significant and challenging impact. We’re holding on strong, but the repercussions are notable. The abrupt shift to an old-fashioned approach of cutting ties globally feels isolating in today’s interconnected world. Personally and politically, it saddens me, and from a logistical standpoint, it has generated numerous issues. It’s an unnecessary separation we didn’t want, and I believe many British designers share this sentiment.

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The Cobble stools | Photography by Matthew Donaldson

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The Element table and Cobble stool | Photography by Matthew Donaldson

What brings you to Maison&Objet? Can you talk about your display?

Faye Toogood: This marks our inaugural Maison&Objet experience. In my days at World of Interiors magazine, I used to attend twice a year. Making my return after a hiatus of more than 15 years feels surreal. The core ambitions and messaging behind the brand remain steadfast, and it’s truly gratifying to be here showcasing my own projects. Our focal point at the stall is the ceramic elements. We’re presenting the Dough collection in cream and black alongside the ceramic stools and the new Sculpture table. The table features a hand-painted finish, meticulously lacquered. Although initially conceived as a limited piece a few years ago, we’ve now streamlined manufacturing to produce more.

Often, what happens with designers is you find that you need certain things in your own life. This holds true for fashion, furniture, and beyond. In my case, the search for a resilient dining table led to the creation of one that could endure daily activities: eating, dancing, kids drawing and painting. A table that isn’t overly precious. I sought a material that wasn’t just plain timber or stone. With its cold touch and tendency to create clunky sounds, stone wasn’t the right fit. I craved warmth and softness. Therefore, we decided to craft our own table. Three hand-poured paints create a warm, marble effect, sealed with a protective lacquer. We’re also now excitedly exploring different colours for future iterations.

See 10 standout designs from the September 2023 iteration of Paris Design Week and MAISON&OBJET featured inside the latest issue of est magazine, Celebrating 50. 

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Designer Faye Toogood | Photography by DSL Studio

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