The East London brand is marking a new stage in its development by launching collections by Amechi Mandi and Gill Thorpe at London Design Festival
Photography courtesy of FLOOR_STORY featuring the brand’s new Curb rug
Words by Emily Brooks
‘Bold. In your face. And unapologetically about bright colour,’ is how Simon Goff describes FLOOR_STORY’s rug portfolio. Since he founded the company in 2014, it’s become known as one of the brightest and most beige-averse flooring brands out there, thanks in part to collaborations with designers who share Goff’s unconstrained joy of colour, from Henry Holland’s trippy acid-house smiley faces to Camille Walala’s strong graphic lines.
FLOOR_STORY is currently in a new phase of development, with a move in September 2022 to a new east London HQ, shared with commercial interior design studio Trifle*, and the publication of its first sustainability report, highlighting its ambitions to lead the way in an industry known for some uncomfortable subjects, from child labour to end-of-life product disposal.
What’s not changed is the search for new external talent, complementing the work of the in-house design team led by Gill Thorpe. Next up is a collection by Cameroon-born, London-based Amechi Mandi that has all the FLOOR_STORY hallmarks, from eye-popping hues to non-standard shapes.
‘I like the freshness of working with collaborators,’ says Goff. ‘We tend to work with designers who haven’t made a rug before; it creates a better design when people aren’t thinking about the constraints of rug-making.’
Photography courtesy of FLOOR_STORY
Thorpe spotted Mandi’s textile designs on Instagram and started following him, which prompted Mandi to get in touch to see if FLOOR_STORY wanted to make something together. The collection of six rugs has taken 14 months to create and will launch in the showroom during London Design Festival (16–24 September), alongside two collections by Thorpe including the new Curb collection.
Mandi’s rugs all feature an abstract wave pattern that draws on childhood memories of trips to the Cameroonian beach town of Limbe (known as Victoria when he was growing up). ‘I started doing guided meditation two years ago, and when I was guided to go to a happy place, I would always go back to that beach in my mind,’ says Mandi.
‘I’d close my eyes and see the waves crashing on the rocks.’ Goff says that Mandi was ‘very particular’ about the colourways – chosen from a palette of 3,000 samples of wool tufts in the showroom – with sandy shades contrasting with coral and lilac, or two-tone pink mixed with hot orange. Different pile heights have been carved out to emphasise the designs’ graphic outlines.
Mandi studied product and furniture design then moved into textiles and, just as Goff prefers, had never designed a rug before. His textile work is influenced by the indigenous textiles of Cameroon and Nigeria, motivated by a desire to give visibility to something other than the Dutch wax prints that inevitably first come to mind when thinking about African textiles.
Photography courtesy of FLOOR_STORY featuring Mandi’s new designs
‘They have a colonial history,’ he explains. ‘My generation seemed to be forgetting our traditional textiles, so my first step was to try and educate my community [about them].’ For the rugs, however, ‘I wanted to do something that wasn’t specifically to do with my cultural heritage.’
Perhaps the secret to FLOOR_STORY’s successful collaborations is that ‘we don’t really give them a brief,’ says Goff. But it’s equally about offering a guiding hand along the way: he says that designers often start out ‘throwing everything at it’, from elaborate carved piles to scores of colours, and then it’s FLOOR_STORY’s job to pare it back and create something more realistic. ‘I totally understand why they do it, though,’ says Goff. ‘
They want it to be really special.’ And Mandi feels equally glad to have that guidance: ‘Like any creative, I always feel that it’s not quite good enough. I need to be stopped somewhere!’
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