Design by Toko’s nomadic strategy to operating a studio

The Dutch husband and wife team behind Design by Toko have lived and worked everywhere from America to Australia over the last two decades. Then the pandemic changed everything

The idea of moving studios over 12 times in 20 years would be a stressful thought for any creative, let alone throwing cross-country and intercontinental relocations into the mix as well. For Design by Toko co-founder Michael Lugmayr, however, the opposite is true. “Moving day is terrible, there’s no doubt about it, but all of them have been inspirational in some shape or form,” he says, as he catches up with CR virtually from the studio’s latest space in a converted power plant in Rotterdam.

Lugmayr met his wife and co-founder Eva Dijkstra in the late 90s, when they were both studying at the Academy of Fine Art and Design in Breda. After spending several years working at various agencies in the US and the Netherlands, among them Studio Dumbar, they decided to set up shop in Rotterdam in 2001, and the first incarnation of Design by Toko was born.

All images courtesy Design by Toko

Having established themselves on the Dutch design scene, it wasn’t too long before the travel bug took hold of them, and in 2006 they made the decision to relocate to Sydney. “We considered Barcelona, Berlin, Scandinavia. Then we did a holiday trip to Australia for two weeks and we just really fell in love with Sydney,” says Lugmayr. “It was one of those cities where you can have a great lifestyle but also a career, and that’s pretty rare. So we were on the plane back home and decided that it was going to be the next one.”

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