LDF17: Faye Toogood’s Trade Show Exhibition

Turning the concept of a ‘trade show’ on its head, Faye Toogood selected 50 leading creatives, from a wide range of disciplines, from furniture design to art and photography and presented each of them with one of her signature Spade chairs – created for this project in a special limited-edition sandcast-aluminum. In return, she asked them to donate a piece of their own work – the donated work formed her Trade Show exhibition at the London Design Festival in the Garage Gallery in Brompton, where Toogood launched her debut furniture collection – and the original Space Chair – in 2010.

As well as a play on words that subverts contemporary design festivals, The Trade Show draws on the tradition of artists supporting each other through mutually-beneficial trade, exchange, and barter. The site-specific exhibition was a calm, contemplative retreat from the organized chaos outside its doors.

Soojin Kang’s project The Tactility of Seating uses weaving to create a new perspective on chairs. When this chair is upright it is functional, with a cloak-like blanket attached to its back. In this configuration, the function of both the rug and the chair is compromised, forcing the viewer to contemplate the form, texture and materials of the piece.

It was no doubt with a wry smile that Rolf Sachs donated Sisiphus – his spade with a hole cut through the middle in exchange for Toogood’s Space Chair – both reference the garden tool, but neither would be very useful for digging a hole.

Max Lamb donated a ‘Last Stool Splatter’ which he originally created for Swedish design brand Hem. Each one is hand-painted and then fired at 800C for a perfect enamel finish.

Desert Islands by 6a Architects comprises four sets of three bowls made from lead-free crystal and hand-painted gold enamel.

Cosmos (on the wall) by Andere Monjo is inspired by the non-logical and non-perfect. “The piece I choose to exchange appreciates the roughness and the self-nature of materials,” he says. “This instinctive integrity and the balance between aleatory and artisanal hands create an intimate humble beauty, which I find in the core of Faye’s work too.”

Alex Mullins donated the Double Head pillow. “It is inspired by a deep-rooted fascination with objects and furniture – each of my loved objects developing into a character,” he says. “The double-head pillow is a playful reminder that you need real friends too. The combination of delicate and brutal is what connects me to Faye’s work; her shapes are abstract and serene.”

Photography by Katie Treggiden and French + Tye

Katie Treggiden is a purpose-driven journalist, author and, podcaster championing a circular approach to design – because Planet Earth needs better stories. She is also the founder and director of Making Design Circular, a program and membership community for designer-makers who want to join the circular economy. With 20 years' experience in the creative industries, she regularly contributes to publications such as The Guardian, Crafts Magazine and Monocle24 – as well as being Editor at Large for Design Milk. She is currently exploring the question ‘can craft save the world?’ through an emerging body of work that includes her fifth book, Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure (Ludion, 2020), and a podcast, Circular with Katie Treggiden.