8 Things
Faye Toogood, stylist and creative director

Faye Toogood, the London-based interiors stylist and creative consultant, has designed exhibition stands for Tom Dixon, windows for Liberty, displays for Dover Street Market, and sets for Wallpaper. But in all of her career, she’s had only one job interview. At the tender age of 21, having just graduated from Bristol University with degrees in fine art and art history, Toogood was called for an interview with Min Hogg, legendary founding editor of the British design bible The World of Interiors. “I had found out about a stylist job and decided I would go for it, even though I didn’t even know what that meant,” says Toogood. “I went in and it was the strangest thing. She asked me, ‘Can you sew, and can you tie a bow?’ I actually couldn’t sew, so I lied, and when I got the job I had someone do it for me.”

Toogood was hired on the merits of a portfolio Hogg asked her to put together — something that would best describe her eye. “I filled an old suitcase with sketchbooks, packaging, postcards — all the things I’d collected over the years, and that was my way in. I hadn’t ever been on a shoot before.” Toogood calls herself a voracious consumer of imagery, and because the magazine covered styles from the 16th century until today, it taught her never to discount anything. It also helped to refine her style, which often pairs brilliantly poppy, ultramodern hues with semi-dilapidated or industrial interiors.

After eight years at the magazine, Toogood left to freelance, but soon began to chafe at the stylist label. “I was becoming more interested in the three-dimensional space,” she says. “The problem with sets is that they get destroyed and thrown away, and all that’s left is a photograph. I wanted to create something with relevance and to watch people respond to the spaces I’d created. You can’t really watch someone read a magazine.” Last year, Toogood founded her eponymous creative consultancy and since then has watched her stock skyrocket. In September, she created two of London Design Festival’s most buzzed-about events: The Hatch was a Memphis-inspired play den where visitors could manipulate geometric building blocks as well as create their own egg dishes in the café, and for Corn Craft, she asked designers like Raw-Edges, Nacho Carbonell, and Max Lamb to create corn-based products for an exhibition and farm-to-table dinner inside a gorgeous flat belonging to the owners of London’s Gallery Fumi.

Toogood is a professional maximalist, but in her personal life, she has had to pare down. “As a child, I had all of these collections, and I was constantly shifting them, styling from an early age even if I didn’t realize it. Then I met my husband and unfortunately he is a complete minimalist. As a way of showing my love, I decided to relieve myself of some of those collections, though they’re starting to creep back.” We asked Toogood to share some of her inspirations — perhaps the things she would collect if she had the space and her husband the patience.

The Hatch

Toogood’s projects usually begin with a theme she’s been stuck on for weeks. For The Hatch, an interactive installation at last fall's London Design Festival, she says: "I had been on holiday and picked up a book on Memphis. Somehow the Memphis group suddenly made sense to me in a way it hadn’t in the past — the humor, the simple geometric shapes, the colors, the fact that everything wasn’t black and slick and serious. It seemed like a reaction against everything that had come before, and in that way felt relevant. The funny thing about The Hatch is that all these creative people, architects and designers, were coming in and getting stuck, like, ‘Oh no, I have to make it myself?’ It was a joy watching them liberate themselves inside what was essentially a play den.”

6 Josef Hoffman

Josef Hoffman: Hoffman is best known for his furniture and glassware, but Toogood is inspired by the Austrian designer's jewelry pieces, produced during the early part of the 20th century, which she calls “small works of art. The Wiener Werkstätte designers’ sense of decoration feels very interesting and relevant right now. They were using traditional decoration techniques and traditional materials — brass and copper and silverware and crystal — but somehow it was feels graphic and very modern. I think a lot of people, like my husband, find decoration superfluous or unnecessary. But I think it’s really important and it’s often what can really make you respond to a space in an emotional way.”

KLEIN2

Yves Klein blue: “Color has a real impact on my work and the way I live. As a young girl I would wear only blue, and I still have a closet full of it. And this is the perfect blue,” Toogood says of the ultramarine pigment created by the French artist in the 1950s. “When I first stood in front of one of Klein’s paintings I was completely transfixed — the luminosity and glow coming off his blue canvases is practically phosphorescent.”

YBC_nickcaveva2

Soundsuits by Nick Cave: A compulsive collector herself, Toogood is inspired by artists with similar magpie tendencies, like the Chicago-based musician Nick Cave. Cave’s full-body soundsuit sculptures layer metal, plastic, fabric, toys, feathers, dyed human hair, and other found objects that when rubbed together create elaborate noise collages. “They’re very reminiscent of African costume and culture, and they have this joy and immediacy that makes me want to dance,” says Toogood. “They’re ridiculous and theatrical and unexpected but at the same time really poignant.”

3 John stezaker

John Stezaker: "I came across Stezaker's work when I was studying art history," Toogood says of the British conceptual artist. "He splices together found imagery from magazines and books in a way that’s quite unnerving and disjointed. He makes very simple landscapes or portraits, but there’s something surreal and disturbing about them.”

WOI_Dressing Tables_low res_05_hand mirror

There's an occasional element of the surreal in Toogood's work as well, like in this shoot for The World of Interiors, her last for the magazine. "It was a shoot at St Pancras chambers, this incredible Victorian building, and it was about dressing tables, so we had made these giant lipsticks, pearls, and hand mirrors."

7 Madeleine

Madeline Castaing: "Madeline Castaing, the French decorator and antique dealer, was by all accounts a very eccentric character. She had a great sense of style and consistently created glamorous interiors with mad eclecticism and unexpected neoclassical taste — right up until she died in her nineties. Castaing is the only decorator that I am aware of that has managed to pull off leopard print carpets and plastic flowers successfully.”

Azurite_from_China

Geology: “I always get my colors from nature,” says Toogood. (Her signature blue occurs naturally in the copper mineral azurite, shown here). “I’m very into grass, natural materials, rocks, things I find in the ground — it probably comes from growing up in the countryside. I wish I could dedicate more time to studying the unexpected colors and compositions found in minerals and rocks. Why didn't we get geology lessons at school?”

1 Sissinghurst

Sissinghurst’s White Garden “I had always been more interested in the rural and the natural than in gardens, until I went to Sissinghurst,” says Toogood of the Kentish National Trust site designed in the 1930s by British author Vita Sackville-West. “We went on an outing one day at World of Interiors for a private tour of the castle and garden. The site is broken up into a series of ‘rooms,’ each united by theme or color, and I fell in love with the White Room. Finally the English garden made sense to me. Somehow they achieved something completely natural like it had been there forever. And despite being designed in the ‘30s, the White Room is astoundingly modern in its approach to design.”

8 Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg: “I think the roughness of his sculpture is actually really elegant,” Toogood says of the British artist. “I find his use of found objects and discarded building materials, assembled as stacks or crushed, brutal but beautiful in their honesty. He literally pulls things out of the ground or a skip and makes them heroic and monumental.”