The 21st edition of the London Design Festival is currently taking over the various sectors of London, UK, with an embellished series of events, exhibitions, talks, and interactive design installations. The design fair, taking place from September 16 - 24, 2023, is among the various international art and design events that herald the onslaught of this year’s second innings of communal creative endeavours.
Among the myriad presentations at the trade fair, FLOOR_STORY, an East London-based rug dealer and design house, unveils a series of fresh designs developed in collaboration with Cameroon-born furniture designer Amechi Mandi, and Irish textile designer Gill Thorpe, at a design exhibition curated by Trifle* (a commercial interior design agency). The showcase is housed within the Cairo Studio (a collaborative workspace and local creative hub) situated on Old Street, and home to FLOOR_STORY and Trifle* since 2022.
Founded by Simon Goff in 2015, FLOOR_STORY is known as a maker of beautiful rugs that focus on both, craftsmanship and uniquely patterned product designs. Globally acknowledged for their handmade rugs, the brand frequently collaborates with renowned designers to produce offbeat rug designs. For their presentation at the London Design Festival 2023, the brand collaborated with Mandi and Thorpe and partnered with female weavers from Afghanistan to develop three Autumn/ Winter rug collections.
In collaboration with FLOOR_STORY, Mandi developed six rugs and runners, all organically shaped and bearing semblance to the movement of waves. “(Mandi) refers to water and a childhood spent close to the ocean, through wave-like and undulating classic shapes, modernised with a graphical twist,” reads an excerpt from the press release. Other sources of inspiration for the carpet designs include patterns and colours from his Cameroonian and Nigerian heritage. On view at the ongoing design festival, these rugs bear an unconventional, graphical aesthetic, and are rendered in warm tones of distinct pastels such as pistachio, pinks, and amber hues. "(Mandi's) use of colour and pattern really caught my eye, and I could immediately see his approach translating well, into an interesting rug collection," Thorpe says.
They are tufted in India using New Zealand wool and viscose. Owing to the different pile heights of the tufts, the rugs are characterised by an illusive depth. The patterns are inspired by works of Italian architect Gaetano Pesce and Spanish designer and artist Jaime Hayon, their graphic simplicity imbuing the rugs with an innocent yet playful charm.
Mandi was approached by Thorpe (head of design at FLOOR_STORY) when she came across his engrossing use of colours and patterns. “It was great working with FLOOR_STORY. It was collaborative all the way and they valued my perspective. There was a bit of a delay in the development as I initially considered having something that resembled my beaded patterns to some degree, but after seeing what that'd look like in some renderings I did, I decided against it. Very content with what we achieved,” the product designer shares.
Thorpe created two collections called Curb and Verso for the rug brand's Autumn/ Winter 2023 collection, catering to their showcase at the design week. “My new collections, Curb and Verso, are both inspired by my photography of road markings, pavements, and manhole covers that I have been documenting across London. I am drawn to patterns and repetition that often go unnoticed in a cityscape. I love to curate colour palettes to set a mood and develop multiple colour stories before finalising my selection. The collections reflect the roots of FLOOR_STORY, being based in East London, a producer of off-beat, colourful rugs,” the Irish designer shares with STIR.
Curb comprises a series of four tufted and handwoven rugs that derive inspiration from paint markings splattered across pavement slabs and curbs. Taking cues from these patterns that often make a presence only as worn-down, faded, and distorted versions of the original designs, Thorpe re-contextualises the elements she witnesses on the daily within her city and presents them as playful patterns that manifest as the border for each of these rug pieces.
Thorpe’s Verso collection bears an illustrative, 'surreal, (and) almost cartoon-like feel,' referencing the urban terrain of East London. Verso refers to ‘versus,’ and implies the overturned, changed, misaligned patterns formed on the streets by the unusual placement of manhole coverings. The name of the collection also refers to the many types of knots formed while making a rug, often hidden at its backside. Manifested in contrasting hues of jade, brick, and burgundy, alongside lighter tones of green, nude, and pink, these patterns showcase a unique and colourful blend in configurations inspired by an oft-seen streetscape element. “This collection of Turkish and Moroccan knot rugs is knit by weavers based in Afghanistan and is part of a partnership with a local NGO, the objective being to maintain a steady workflow for the predominantly female weavers,” states the press release.
FLOOR_STORY's rugs are on view from September 16-22, 2023, at the Cairo Studios, Nile Street, London, N1 7RF.
London Design Festival is back! In its 21st edition, the faceted fair adorns London with installations, exhibitions, and talks from major design districts including Shoreditch Design Triangle, Greenwich Peninsula, Brompton, Design London, Clerkenwell Design Trail, Mayfair, Bankside, King's Cross, and more. Click here to explore STIR’s highlights from the London Design Festival 2023.