Outside the Box: Faye Toogood on curating The Modern House’s moving-in box
At The Modern House, we have just completed our first foray into product design. Our moving-in box is a design-led welcome gift, a collection of bespoke objects that we give to people when they buy a home from our agency.
In our series ‘Outside the Box’, we’re talking to the designers, artisans and craftspeople involved, meeting them in their studios and exploring their creative processes.
We met the multi-disciplinary designer Faye Toogood in her Shoreditch studio, to discuss how the project came about and her approach to curating the box and commissioning its contents.
“My husband, Matt Gibberd, is one of the co-founders of The Modern House. We talked about the idea of giving homebuyers something meaningful and beautiful, to start them on the journey of curating their new interior.
“Ordinarily when you buy a house, you would expect a bottle of bubbles or a really naff candle from the agent; basically something that you don’t really want. We thought that we could go a little bit further to offer something more meaningful and long-lasting.
“The idea evolved from initially being a set of beautiful mugs to eventually the concept of the ultimate moving-in box. We liked the idea of it being another box you open on moving day, filled with useful, designed objects for the home.
“One of the challenges was that within The Modern House’s community, people are very conscious of their interior aesthetic and what objects they put in their home. We realised that for the box to suit everyone it would have to bridge a gap across a range of different styles.
“The conclusion was a luxury but utilitarian set of products that could become essential to someone’s environment. We began by thinking about each room in the house, and what you might need in each space.
“We had a big long list of different objects. I feel like we could have made a moving-in lorry we had so many ideas! But we whittled it down by thinking in terms of materials, which is how we work as a studio.
“By thinking about clay, glass, wood, ceramic, paper and cloth, we started to form a box of elemental and essential objects: The Keyring, The Cup, The Candle, and so on. From there we commissioned UK-based designers and makers, most of whom were friends or people we had worked with before.
“Moving to a new house is an extremely emotional time in your life. Some people move for good reasons, others less so. It can come with a huge amount of stress and change, especially in this country where we place so much emphasis on owning bricks and mortar. But I think that emphasis also means that equal importance is placed on objects in the home, and how we design our interiors.
“I hope that the objects within the box will be a reminder to homebuyers that they’ve had a good experience with The Modern House, and that that experience goes beyond the moving-in day. From a designer’s perspective, we seek to embed well-made things into people’s lives that they will actually use.
“Because of that, Erica [Faye’s sister, with whom she runs the fashion side of the business] and I tasked ourselves with creating an apron. It seemed to make sense, as we couldn’t put a really heavy chair in there, which is what our studio is perhaps best known for.
“But also, it’s that idea that the apron is the most important part of your home uniform. Wearing an apron is extremely personal and domestic; you don’t walk down the street to the corner shop wearing it. It speaks of home.”