Simon Goff, founder of FLOOR_STORY, talks about his passion for rugs
Words by Emily Martin
People look at the ground a lot. Thankfully, the amazing flooring industry is dedicated to making our subconscious downward staring a bit more worth it, even exciting. This flooring focus explores a number of innovative flooring product and projects – from the hard-wearing, acoustic and environmental to some of the most creative, artistic and beautiful flooring around. Sometimes a flooring design sets up an amazing interior scheme; other times it will offer more practical solutions, including wayfinding. But there are the few occasions where a floor design has been allowed to take centre stage and steal the spotlight. Enjoy exploring these projects and products as well as hearing from the people who help create them.
Profile: Simon Goff of FLOOR_STORY
‘Rugs add personality and, in our case, colour and pattern above all else. They can be used much like any other soft furnishing, though probably have more impact because of the scale,’ says Simon Goff, founder of Floor_Story, an east London-based rug maker and dealership. He collaborates with some for the world’s best designers to deliver beautifully patterned and colourful spaces – and is very passionate about rugs and their ability to transform environments. He continues: ‘Reserved schemes can really be lifted out of the ordinary with a carefully selected piece, or they can simply add more colour to a bold interior style. Whatever you choose, and above all else, a rug should make you happy and proud to own.’
It’s always quite something to meet someone with a subject passion, but Goff didn’t begin his working life with the ambition to bring handmade modern rugs to homes and businesses. Instead, he talks about a ‘distracted’ school life that led him to leave at 15 years of age and enter the workplace doing various jobs. While quick to advocate the importance of education, it was this unconventional path that, eventually, paved the way to flooring success.
Floor_Story’s Water Optick by designer Kitty Joseph
‘I guess you could say it was in my blood,’ says Goff on discovering his love for rugs. My father has worked in flooring most of his life and my brothers are involved in the industry too. I had a pretty varied work life in travel and the music industry before joining my father.’
His father’s firm was expanding and opened a flooring shop in Chelsea’s Duke of York Square. Some three years after starting to work with his father, they were tasked with the launch of Heal’s first carpet and rug department at its flagship London store.
Goff became enthralled with rugs and gathered an intimate understanding of rug production. ‘For me, it’s about making them accessible and exploring the creative opportunity they present,’ he explains. ‘I’m a strong believer in the positive power of colour and modern design: rugs combine these elements beautifully and in a way that is easy to bring into [a space]. A rug is an addition that isn’t fixed to the wall or stuck to the floor; it’s easy to move around, change up or simply move to another room. This is what makes rugs so powerful.’
In 2011 Goff founded Floor_Story as an e-commerce business selling handmade rugs sourced from regular trips to Istanbul and India. But despite having gained a few design contacts after seven years in the family business, building a company that is now known for collaborations with some of the world’s top designers wasn’t something that came easily. He had to be persistent, but his passion for rugs also proved infectious so attracted some great design talent: ‘In the early days it was a case of some serious Instagram stalking and badgering designers that inspired me until they caved in and agreed to work together. However, now it’s a lot more organic,’ Goff explains.
Early collaborators – some of the country’s most talented upcoming designers and lifestyle outlets – included names such as Kangan Arora, Sunny Todd Prints and Darkroom. Today, Floor_Story works with other big names including designer of the moment Camille Walala. Supplying to both residential and commercial spaces, projects include WeWork, Twitter, Fora Space, Trifle*, and even 189 rooms at the recently completed NHow Hotel in east London.
In 2016 he opened a showroom at Kent & London, in Shoreditch, east London, and has been busy launching capsule collections with Zandra Rhodes, Walala, and print maestro Eley Kishimoto.
‘Our designs with Camille Walala have proved popular with customers across the globe,’ says Goff. ‘It’s easy to see why as her bold, graphic style has international appeal, and with her list of global projects seemingly growing every month, it doesn’t look like slowing down.
‘Camille’s produced new designs for us quite recently and the collection continues to be loved. The John Booth collection has won us much praise of late too and helped to secure our grail of awards, a coveted Carpet Design Award. We’ve been after one of these for years, and with it in hand we are now firmly on the map in the handmade rug industry.’
Goff wants to make beautiful handmade rugs accessible to all
Floor_Story uses a mixture of constructions across its collections, from hand-woven styles, often known as kilims, which are some of the ‘affordable’ designs, to hand tufted and hand-knotted pieces in silk and wool.
Meanwhile, many of Goff’s talented designer team start collaborating with him early in their careers. A ‘hotbed of creative talent just waiting to burst through’, as he puts it, has given him some innovative collections such as Wakaam, which draws its inspiration from the recycled plastic rugs often found in Senegalese markets.
The latest launches are two new Designer Collections, with Child Studio and Adam Nathaniel Furman, which were showcased in September. And while these exciting design collaborations are set to continue, Goff envisions more commercial projects for the business.
‘We’re excited about the potential offered by the commercial sector and we’re taking on more and more projects,’ he explains. ‘We’ve been working alongside several interior design companies over the years, but our commercial work now accounts for a substantial part of our business. We’re keen to build on this momentum through our bespoke work and commissions. It really is exciting times here at Floor_Story and I’m hugely positive about the future.’