Toogood x Birkenstock: first look at this season’s hottest collaboration

Kate Worthington
·3-min read
Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli
Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli

From ELLE Decoration

Studio Toogood and Birkenstock have collaborated on a new collection that includes footwear, accessories, apparel, and perhaps surprisingly, a cocooning bed (it’s little known in the UK that Birkenstock has been making luxury beds since 2017). We asked studio founder Faye Toogood to tell us about her designs…

Photo credit: Tom Johnson
Photo credit: Tom Johnson

How did the collaboration with Birkenstock come about?

My sister, Erica, and I both wore Birkenstocks growing up. Even now, we have more Birkenstocks than people in my house!

When I was introduced to Oliver Reichert, the CEO of Birkenstock, I found we shared so many values from high quality materials to manufacture. The partnership was very natural – I admire Birkenstock’s commitment to working with sustainable materials, and that they design with longevity in mind.

Pretty quickly after the initial discussion we both wanted to expand the project beyond shoes to include clothing and a bed, allowing a truly holistic approach to the creative collaboration.

What are the parallels between your approach and Birkenstock’s?

I believe we share the same values of quality materials, truth to manufacture and longevity of design and product. Like Birkenstock, we also design for men and women of all ages.

Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli
Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli

Where did you start – the apparel, footwear or the bed?

I continually cross boundaries and disciplines within my work, so although the collaboration project began with shoes, it felt very natural for me to also design a complementary capsule clothing collection and a bed. The work on the footwear, the clothing and the bed all informed each other in terms of materials, colours and shapes.

Photo credit: Rory van Millingen
Photo credit: Rory van Millingen

Tell us about the design of the bed…

I have designed bespoke beds for residential interior design projects but never with a bed system as such. The emphasis with this bed is as much on comfort and ergonomics as it is on design. I was impressed to see that the mattresses are partially made out of cork and that the slatted frame has been turned into a supersized version of the footbed that’s used in its footwear.

Incorporating this principle, I started designing the bed with the same holistic approach. I used cork as a base to mirror the sandals and then used breathable, natural materials which are comfortable to sleep on. The bed design uses all the signature materials of the Toogood x Birkenstock collaboration in a single piece. Sitting on the cork base, the bed is made up of puffy layers of canvas and leather upholstery. The headboard and surround are upholstered in cream leather embracing its natural texture.

Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli
Photo credit: Matteo Carcelli

The footwear is inspired by found objects – how did you translate that into a shoe?

I always start projects with a narrative. When I started to think about this project and Birkenstock’s iconic sandals, I was fascinated by the fact that alongside pottery, artworks and tools, sandals are amongst the earliest surviving artefacts. These found objects are then often put on display. Our collaboration with Birkenstock was influenced by this idea of searching and discovering and the sandals becoming sculptural objects in their own right.

In the studio we created a series of small sculptures which went on to inspire the cuts and puffy forms of the final shapes. We re-cut Birkenstock’s Arizona and Zurich patterns into new contours using cardboard and scraps of material – the same way we’d approach a new piece of furniture. As a final element of narrative, the themes of discovering, searching and collecting are realised in the sandal names: ‘The Mudlark’, ‘The Beachcomber’ and ‘The Forager’. t-o-o-g-o-o-d.com; 1774.com

Photo credit: Rory van Millingen
Photo credit: Rory van Millingen

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