If you’ve been following the Toghal journey for a while, you’ll know that stories are a big passion of ours. Our unique print designs are not pure figments of our imagination but, are rooted in age-old traditions from across the African continent. Our designs are, in themselves, stories – explaining how we’ve interpreted the stories behind the various heritage textiles that inspire us.
The tale does not begin there. Our co-founder, Dayo Forster, recently gave a talk at Africa Utopia, sharing – you guessed it – the story behind the brand.
A statistician by training, Dayo’s first love for the story manifested itself through data analysis – effectively discovering the stories within the data.
Spurred on by a chance remark: ““How do you think your life would have been different if you had stayed in The Gambia?”, Dayo set out on an adventure to write a novel. Intending to use her love for mathematics in the process (more here), 5 years later she had finished Reading the Ceiling. “A … complex examination of potential futures … Forster has written a thought-provoking series of narratives” so proclaimed the Financial Times. In this accomplishment, a more traditional manifestation of the story – as fiction.
It was a love of art and design that led to this current manifestation of stories – as textiles. Dayo had long been interested in African textiles and remembers vividly being fascinated by her grandmother’s Adire (below).
It was only when she moved to live in the UK, after decades in Kenya, that she realised how she would tell this tactile story.
How to decorate a white box?
Dayo was faced with a challenge of how to bring Africa into her British home, in a way that was harmonious with her new environment.
She realised that they were essentially 3 things she could do:
1. Add colour
Whether accent colours to bring a room to life or, more neutral colours that would let colourful furniture, accessories and art sing.
- Add art
Above is a piece by Kenyan artist, Dennis Muraguri, which hangs in Dayo’s home.
- Add textiles
The diversity and beauty of African textiles is immense but, Dayo was keen to tell a different story. Thus, Toghal was born and set about to do 3 things:
1. Bring traditional textiles up to date – such as with our bespoke range using organic cotton that is grown in The Gambia and spun and woven in West Africa. We preshrink the strips and create bedspreads, throws and cushion colours.
2. Reinterpret traditional textiles in new ways, using them as inspiration for new, unique designs
3. Work with contemporary artists and designers. We’re currently working on a stool design collaboration with Ifeanyi Oganwu of Expand Design – we can’t wait to share!
There you have the story of Toghal … so far. We look forward to sharing more as we grow, evolve and craft new narratives.
You can view a portion of Dayo’s Africa Utopia talk here, thanks to West Africa Cooks.
Credits: Ifeanyi photograph