April 29, 2019

Financial Time: In Milan, designers are going mad for Medusa

…Elsewhere at Salone, the British designer Faye Toogood collaborated with the Brooklyn-based Calico Wallpaper to create “Muse”, a series of painterly wallcoverings that evoke the nine daughters of Zeus. The paper began life last year when Toogood was invited to temporarily decorated the office of the Italian Vogue editor, Emanuele Farneti. But rather than imagining a clean-edged, intimidating “male” office, Toogood filled the space with her curvy, chubby chairs and clad the wall in a hanging canvas of muses from the magazine’s half century of cover stars.

So successful were these figurative renderings that she revisited them this year, casting everyone from Coco Chanel to Marie Curie as her muse. Not that you could identify them. THere’s a deliberate anonymity to her design. “It doesn’t matter who they are,” says Toogood, “it’s about the symbolism behind them. Muse implies that they’re important. It’s about their strength.”

Such a focus on womanly creativity is not typical of Toogood, who unsurprisingly bristles at being wheeled out as a “female” furniture maker and designer. Her work typically plays with gender, blurring the lines between the sexes. “We don’t have any male muses though,” she observes, “only female.”

It’s worth noting that Toogood gave birth to twin girls in 2017. “I’ve spent the last year and a half being the ultimate mother — it’s been a moment of domestic heaviness,” she continues.

“It amazes me what women can do. Becoming a mother has enabled me to embrace that feminine power, rather than deny it,”