The Modern House meets ... Faye Toogood
This week we caught up with the acclaimed British designer Faye Toogood, a genuine multi-disciplinarian whose work encompasses everything from interior design to furniture and fashion. She has designed interiors for commercial clients including Comme des Garcons, Hermes and Selfridges, as well as numerous private clients in the UK and abroad.
Faye’s thriving studio is filled with artists, architects, pattern cutters and product designers, who come together for each project to create an unexpected result. Materiality is at the core of all of their work. They have recently upgraded to new premises on London’s Redchurch Street.
Here Faye tells us more about where her interest in design stemmed from, and how she navigates the relationship between architecture and interior when designing her unique environments …
What first inspired your interest in modern design and architecture?
As a child my parents were very passionate about architecture, and we spent many weekends being dragged around National Trust houses. I studied History of Art at Bristol University, then got a job at The World of Interiors magazine, where my true passion for the built environment was born. The magazine exposed me to everything from a 13th-century church to a 1970s squat. I was lucky enough to attend interior shoots around the world, opening my eyes and mind to some of the most exemplary pieces of architecture. One particularly strong memory was the adobe architecture in Mali, and also an extraordinary 13th-century palace in Rajasthan.
When you’re designing the interior of a property, how much influence do you draw from the architecture of the building?
There has to be acknowledgement between the architecture and interior. Sometimes that’s about working empathetically and sensitively with it, and other times it’s about providing a contrast to the architects. Historical references are very important to me, both in physical terms but also in terms of its former use and who lived there.
When you’re buying a house, what’s the one thing you won’t compromise on?
The connection to landscape. Having grown up in the countryside, it’s extremely important for me to feel like I’m part of a green landscape rather than an urban one. Whether it’s a view over a park, a garden, or even a terrace packed with plant pots, it’s important to keep that connection.
If we could arrange a house swap for you, is there a house or apartment block in the UK that you’d go for?
My favourites are 2 Willow Road by Ernő Goldfinger in Hampstead, and the house of Jim Ede, Kettle’s Yard, in Cambridge. Both are understated but hold so much humanity, simplicity and a personal collection of objects within their interiors.
Tell us about the house you grew up in.
I grew up in an Edwardian house, which had little architectural significance. It was the early 1980s, so my parents had a passion for Laura Ashley and all the decor had to coordinate and match. As a result, we always referred to the rooms by the colour (the pink room or the green room) rather than functions. I was allowed to decorate my own bedroom, for which I chose purple walls and a bottle-green ceiling, not my finest hour of design.
Is there a British architect or designer whose work you’re particularly excited by at the moment?
I really like Jonathan Tuckey Design. Jonathan studied anthropology rather than architecture. I love his sensitivity to light and the materials he uses, challenging the conventions of architecture, and also the way he embraces and deals with space.
Read more about Faye Toogood in our Directory of Architects and Designers.