A LOT OF TOSHIE
The design company paying homage to Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Charles Randak, managing director of one of the longestestablished design companies in Scotland, wants to share Mackintosh with the world. And we’re not talking about the cheap, rip-off ‘Mockintosh’ souvenirs seen in Edinburgh gift shops. The Toshie Mackintosh Collection, created by the team at Randak Design, pays homage to Glasgow’s creative genius with elegance and quality, and it is just in the very early stages of being exported beyond Scotland.
‘We didn’t want to lift the rose motif because the shelves are full of those kinds of products,’ says Charles, who explains that the idea of reimagining the designs of Mackintosh for the modern world sprang from a trip to Europe, when he realised you could buy quality products in Spain, France and Italy inspired by their most famous designers and craftsmen. ‘We wanted to go deeper and do something simpler to reference Mackintosh. We wanted to take an element that was important to him and make it work in another dimension for today’s market – that was our starting point.’
Toshie is based exclusively on the square motif used ubiquitously in the designs of Mackintosh, most notably in the Glasgow School of Art and The Hill House. In his introduction to Toshie’s new book, Roger Billcliffe says of the Glasgow School of Art: ‘Mackintosh introduced a pattern of squares on each landing. They explore the apparently infinite possibilities that Mackintosh saw in what was now his favourite motif.’
For Charles, the squares motif also has a number of practical
It’s a very workable little device you can have fun with
benefits. ‘It’s a very workable little device; it’s a fundamental motif you can do lots of things with and have fun with and embellish and extend your design. It’s very contemporary and versatile.’
Much like The Four who created the original Glasgow Style in the 1880s and 90s (Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Herbert MacNair and Margaret and Frances MacDonald), Charles and his team at Randak Design are Glasgow School of Art alumni. And like their predecessors, who created a distinctive style which is easily recognised across the world, Charles wants people to acknowledge the provenance of his designs as being intrinsically linked with Glasgow.
Toshie was born seven years ago and basic designs were first produced by Johnstons of Elgin, who created wraps, scarves and bags as a capsule range for Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.
Today, the brand boasts a variety of fabrics and wall coverings and Charles has his sights set on major clients and design projects. ‘We’re really aiming at corporate offices, airports, hotels and even cruise ships,’ he says.
Having already secured a high profile Scottish client who is using the Toshie design in their offices, Charles is looking to tap into markets further afield. He has just returned from a trip to New York where he was meeting with architects and interior designers interested in Toshie’s designs.
Charles’ goal is to see Toshie in a boutique hotel in Manhattan, where he imagines the more astute guests will appreciate the heritage of the subtle squares. ‘It allows the story to evolve – these squares are all related to Scotland’s most creative genius and the most significant building in Glasgow,’ he says.
Asked what he thinks Charles Rennie Mackintosh – who was greatly underappreciated in his lifetime – would say if he came back today and saw a boutique hotel in New York using the wall coverings and fabrics of Toshie, Charles says, ‘I think he would come back and say, “About bloody time!”’
Above left: CharlesRandak. Right (clockwise from topleft): Mackintosh’s iconic ‘squares’ from the interior of his Hill House; Soft Charcoal ‘tile’ fabric in the ‘Butler’s Pantry’ at The Hill House; A suite of ‘tile, check and fret’ fabrics from the Toshie Mackintosh Interiors Collection. Carmine ‘check’ cushion in the master bedroom at The Hill House; Soft Charcoal ‘check’ bed cover in the master bedroom at The Hill House.