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.
Francesca Gavin is a London-based writer, editor, and blogger, and, like you and me, she’s a major voyeur. For her book Creative Space: Urban Homes of Artists and Innovators, she traveled the world, slipping inside the studios, apartments, and houses of designers, artists, photographers, stylists, curators, writers, and filmmakers to document the chaotic interiors she found there.
For Heather Chontos, painting is like dreaming — a chance to work out all the things that trouble her during the day. Except that what troubles this free-spirited prop stylist and set designer is mostly just one thing: the domestic object. She once spent three years feverishly painting nothing but chairs; she made a series of drawings called "Domestic Goods Are Punishing." It's a kind of love/hate relationship. "It's endemic to stylists everywhere — you see things, you want them, you horde them all," says the 31-year-old. "It's that weighing down I really struggle with. When I first started painting, you would have never seen anything figurative, but it's all I obsess over now."
When Sarah Illenberger picks up the phone, the first thing she does is apologize: There's a loud, repetitive popping noise going off in the background of her Berlin studio, which turns out to be the firing of a staple gun. She doesn't say what her assistants are constructing with the staples, but judging from her past illustration work, it's likely they'll be built up by the thousands onto a substrate until their glinting mass reveals some kind of representational image — a skyscraper, maybe, or a ball of tinfoil. Almost all of Illenberger's work involves using handicraft to manipulate one thing into looking like something else entirely, and almost all of it entails such a meticulous construction process that there's no time to silence it for interviews.