“The Roly Poly Chair precedes me,” Faye Toogood jokes while driving through the wilds of England (a feat that makes this Zoom interview the most exciting one I’ve experienced yet). You might not know exactly what Toogood is talking about when she says Roly Poly. But trust me, you do—after it debuted at Milan's Salone de Mobile, the piece was picked up by collectors, by design lovers, by museums, and, well, frankly anyone who could get their hands on it. (It even influenced fashion.) The distinctive design—with its round, plump shape, chunky legs, and soft curved lines—became a beloved example of how contemporary design could be both avant garde and welcoming. (“Some people see baby elephant,” Toogood helpfully describes.) Other examples of Toogood’s playful designs can, coincidentally, be seen at Friedman Benda in New York until October 17.
But despite any past successes, an artist must continue to create, and that’s exactly what Toogood is doing. This month, she introduces a brand new chair in partnership with Hem: The Puffy Lounge Chair.Photo: Courtesy of Hem
“It’s going to be a new friend!” Toogood says joyfully of her creation. Unlike the Roly Poly, which is made of plastic, the Puffy has a canvas cushion perched artfully and sling-seat style on a wire canvas. “I wanted to give myself a challenge and do soft goods,” she says. “I think if you can make something really beautiful out of canvas, you’ve achieved something. It’s easy to make something out of leather, or gold, and create something that catches your eye. But canvas? There’s a truism to it.”
The cushion is detachable, which is important: Toogood envisions a world where the Puffy can be adorned in say, toile, or any fabric that catches her imagination. This, she stresses, is just the beginning of the Puffy, which she lovingly describes as a padded hammock. “It has a personality to it,” she says.
She admits that she sees herself as a sculpture, and canvas was her material: the goal, she says, was to create a sculpture out of canvas. Which she did: the fabric hangs over the medal frame like an anthropomorphic lounging man, sinking into his favorite furniture after a long day out on the job. “When you get it right,” she says, “The establishment—which is designers, decorators, the great and the good—combined with the 25-year-old who likes design, both of them like it.”