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Designing Experiences: Faye Toogood

On the eve of the opening of The Blocks, a collaboration with Australian winery Penfolds and her first installation outside Europe, interior stylist and designer Faye Toogood spoke to Indesignlive about her inspiration behind the concept, her favourite collaborations and what informs her work.

Designing Experiences: Faye Toogood


March 26th, 2012

Faye Toogood is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment. Having collaborated with brands as diverse as Kenzo, Vitra, H&M, Sony and Swarovski, Toogood has now brought her unmistakeable immersive design approach to Australia with a moody, atmospheric temporary installation for winery Penfolds that seeks to take the mystery out of choosing wine. Toogood spoke to Indesignlive about her work, her inspiration and what’s next.

On The Blocks

“The point of the exhibition in my mind is to demystify wine. Most of us don’t actually know that much about wine and we’re quite intimidated by a wine menu. And so what I wanted to do was to really make sure everybody felt comfortable about choosing the wines they were going to drink, but instead of basing it on the terminology and huge menus filled with words you’re perhaps not used to, we would take the palate down to look at sight, taste and smell.


“Working on it and researching into wine, you realise it’s quite overwhelming what a history wine has, in literature and poetry and art, looking at Caravaggio paintings, and still lives of wine, and it’s the rich history and culture which I think is really beautiful about wine, and which is different to champagne, which is associated with hedonism. Most of us don’t know much about champagne; there’s a kind of mystery there, but I think we all want to know something about wine, and there’s something really beautiful about wine which we can’t necessarily explain.”


The Blocks

On her next project

“My next project [for Milan Design Week] is La Cura – the cure, a hospital for the senses.

“Milan is a complete overload and complete chaos, and we want to take care of everybody.

“I’ve got sponsorship from Nivea for that. I had this concept and I really wanted to find the right brand for it, and Nivea is one of those brands that’s completely universal. We all had Nivea cream as a kid. The tin is for everybody, it’s democratic; this cream is used by men, women, old, young. It brings back holiday memories and things. [Perfumier Dawn Goldworm] is going to create a scent for the space that gives you those feelings, so we’re not scenting it with a Nivea smell but we’re reinterpreting the feelings you get when you smell Nivea.”

On designing experiences

“I’m very happy in these little worlds I create; they’re kind of escapes I guess, and insights into my imagination.


The Blocks

“Also there’s a great move [towards] multi sensory experiences and I think that’s because we’re very overloaded now. We expect a lot; you walk into any retail space and there’s film and video, everything is shouting at you, and the expectation now, working with brands, I realise that they’re all looking for a different way of communicating themselves which is not insular.

“So for example with Penfolds, their previous way of marketing themselves was communicating their history, the way they make wine, and I think they’re starting to realise along with a lot of other brands that that’s actually quite an insular way of communicating what you believe in. So encouraging them to work with new artists and new designers is a way they can have an opinion, culture, heritage, and their own heritage within Australia, which is important.”

On her career highlights

“Working with Alexander McQueen. I love working with Alexander McQueen; I started working with [the brand] when Sarah Burton took over, and they really are fantastic to work with. They’re just very open and I feel that what she does with her clothes, I try to do with my furniture. There’s a definite connection there in terms of, its very strong but at the same time feminine, and I think the way she looks at the history of clothes, the way she cuts things, is beautiful.


Studio Toogood for Alexander McQueen

“We [also] did a fashion show with Kenzo; they’ve just relaunched their brand with Carol and Umberto from Opening Ceremony in New York. And they’re extremely creative. So when you as a creative work with another set of creatives, the end result is really interesting. When you’re working with a creative person and they’re pushing you even more – that’s exciting.”


Studio Toogood for Kenzo

On elements of nostalgia and tradition in her work

“I think there is a sense of nostalgia in my work. Hopefully it’s always modern. I hope that it’s not any kind of pastiche.


The Blocks

“I think I’m quite a nostalgic person. I’m interested in the essence of things. I studied the history of art and in that sense there are certain things that work. There are certain classics, which is why I use a lot of geometry in my work as well, particularly with furniture, because I feel that geometry is sort of the primal, the starting point, and there’s nothing wrong with it.


The Blocks – featuring Spade chair designed by Faye Toogood

“I don’t feel that I have to create some crazy shape. I’m not interested in that. So I think the nostalgic side and the classical side bring emotion and also hopefully elegance to [my work].

“You need to know where you are in the world of design and where your work fits. And in order to create an impact, in order to say something, I think you have to understand your references. Otherwise there’s no contrast there; it’s very difficult to communicate what you’re saying unless you can give it a context, whether that’s an emotional context or whether it’s an immediate reference to the history of art or design.”

The Blocks exhibits in Sydney until April 5, before travelling to Melbourne later in the year. Visit theblockslive.com for more information.

Studio Toogood

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