The Toogood guide to essentials for The Modern House
Words Vilma Paasivaara
Illustrations Faye Toogood’s design studio
With an ethos to find carefully curated and researched properties for their discerning clients, The Modern House have, unsurprisingly, decided to take a new look at the traditional welcome gifts for new owners – which is why they looked to Studio Toogood…
‘We were talking about the idea of a gesture or a gift when people arrive in their new home,’ says Faye Toogood, who curated the welcome gifts. ‘It’s such a fundamental time in your life when you move into your new home.’ Instead of the classic (or cliché) bottle of bubbly, they wanted to offer something with more meaning and resonance. ‘So, I thought it could be really interesting to give people a contemporary design take on a hamper, essentially, and that’s where we created the moving-in box,’ she explains.
Toogood, who is married to Matt Gibberd – co-founder of The Modern House – began the process by first selecting the materials they wanted to include. ‘I decided that the materials we would use were going to be very pure and very elemental.’ She thought that building a gift box for people who have an eye for detail and design needed to start with the best ingredients. ‘To buy a gift for anyone it is always a challenge,’ she says, ‘and though The Modern House draws a certain kind of audience there are people within that audience who actually have quite different tastes.’ To have objects that would find their place in any home she focused on classic materials and kept the palette neutral. ‘It is all very pure. The materials aren’t up for discussion or judgement because everyone loves the purity of glass or fantastic leather.’
After having narrowed down the ingredients, Toogood set out to find people who worked with those materials ‘in an interesting or a local way.’ The idea was that The Modern House could then collaborate with these people to create the selection of objects. ‘I was looking to find people in their own craft, in their own part of the design world, working with these materials and that could be true and pure to these materials,’ Toogood explains. She reached out to designers and makers, all of which she knew from before, and asked them to come up with a design for an object for a particular room, place or function in the house.
‘The first edit contained almost a full table full of objects,’ she says, ‘There was everything from spoons, candles, and bowls to the keyring that is there now.’ And from that abundance of homeware, she worked towards boiling it down to the essentials, like the moving in cards or the beautiful clay ceramic cups, and then to present the whole thing in its own box within which each has its own place. The Modern House collaborated closely with Toogood and the makers to create the final objects. ‘It really shows how much they really care about the design,’ she says. ‘One of the things they were very keen on was that although they can be beautiful the objects should also have a clear function about them.’
The things Toogood finally chose also had a resonance with the essentials in her own home and her studio created an apron for the box (you can see an illustration of the apron at the top, alongside a cup by Olivia Fiddes). She wanted to build a collection that would feel fundamental in a new home and that each piece could find its use and place easily. In the end, it was crucial for the edit to feel coherent – though it meant that a silver spoon she adored didn’t make the final edit. All in all, Toogood is very happy with the results of her rigorous process. ‘If someone gave me that box it would be the ultimate move-in gift,’ she says. ‘It’s in all the little details, that feeling of being at home.’
And the pieces which weren’t included this time could make part of a second edit. ‘I think that it could be an ongoing project,’ she says. ‘Once all of those boxes are out there, a new set of designers and craftsmen could be asked to create a new box – and that could look completely different.’
Read our interview with The Modern House in The Nest Issue – available now!