It’s easy to imagine Matilda Goad in her bedroom as a child, rearranging things. Decorating a room, and making it into something more beautiful and interesting, was just something that felt entirely natural to her...
“I always enjoyed creating spaces, whether it was little magical dens in the garden or rearranging my room. Even now, when I go and stay in a hotel or somewhere that’s slightly unfamiliar, I find myself almost instinctually moving things around or swiping things I don’t like into the bedside drawers. There’s such power in how a space makes you feel.” As someone who has rearranged rooms since I was a kid, and painted my old front door a different colour every six months because I got bored, or the colour wasn’t quite right, Matilda is my kind of person.
Matilda with her daughter Domino
If you don’t know Matilda Goad, she’s the British homewares designer behind that rattan scallop lampshade (at least, she started here, and now does all sorts of beautiful products for your home – yet the lampshade remains a best-seller). As an aside, she’ll also make you want to cut a fringe. Matilda has been called London’s “interior design queen” by The Evening Standard. And while she might now be an interior queen, you can tell she started out in fashion because she always looks so effortlessly chic – as does the West London home she shares with her husband and two children, Domino, 3, and August, nine months. She blends fashion and interiors in a nonchalant way that brings an irreverent edge to the British countryside aesthetic, leaving her playful romantic touch on everything she creates. Matilda studied art at Camberwell College of Arts, before moving into fashion. She worked as a stylist at Russian Vogue and then Wonderland, before assisting fashion director and photographer Venetia Scott at British Vogue. Next came her brand, Matilda Goad & Co.
The beginning of her brand happened very organically. “My last job was working with Venetia Scott, who had complete creative control over her shoots. I got an insight into the process of creating sets on photo shoots, and I was slowly taking on more freelance work window dressing and event styling,” she recalls. At the time, she was in her early twenties and had also just moved in with her now-husband and began spending money on interiors rather than fashion. “I found that there was a real gap in the market for lampshades. A lampshade to me was something that you had in every room. You had it next to a bed, you had it in a sitting room… lighting was also something that was a cost-effective way of changing the feel of a room quite quickly in a rental. When I started looking around, there was either beautiful lampshades that were in the high 100s, which I couldn’t afford, or really basic lampshades.” A true creative, Matilda started playing around with a glue gun in her spare time. “I was also doing a lot of freelance work at the time, so I’d be working over weekends and then I’d have a few days in the week with nothing to do. I got quite creative and designed this lampshade,” she says.
There’s nothing glamorous about starting your own business from scratch and the most honest entrepreneurs will admit they had no idea what they were doing in the beginning. “I literally went onto the Internet and googled lampshade factories and called about 20 of them,” Matilda recalls. She was met with a handful of no’s (again a rite of passage when you’re starting a business – the no’s only make you stronger). “Everyone said no, it’s not possible. You need to have a wire base on the lampshade.” There was one factory, which is still her factory today, who said they’d sample the lamp for her – it worked. Once the orders started coming through, she’d drive the lampshades to her local post office. She could only fit five or so boxes in her car – a Mini – so she’d drive back and forth twice a day, sending off orders. “The brand happened really organically, and the lampshade is still one of our biggest products. I think people nowadays feel like they want to jump in and go full steam ahead. We are still putting our roots down as a brand, and while I’m a very impatient person by nature, with the brand I’m in no rush. It’s important to understand who we are as a brand, who our customer is, and make sure that we’re not just putting things out there for the sake of it.” (If you’re running a business or looking to launch a business, I’d jot that advice down).
“ I love my work, but being a mother has made me into who I am now ”
Matilda with her children Domino and August
If you’re anything like me, you’ll scroll through the Matilda Goad website and want to add everything to your cart. Each item has a purpose. A point of difference. A playfulness about it. A pop of colour. Most of all, it sparks joy (which as we all know, is the point of the stuff we buy). “I always want something to have a point of difference, and I think ultimately, I like products to have a use. Lighting is a core category for us – it’s something you use daily. Also, our cutlery is something you use multiple times a day. When I first brought it out about five years ago, you could pretty much just get metal or silver cutlery, and we do it with these bright coloured handles. It’s about having a different take on everyday items.”
Recently, Matilda launched a line of cork lamps and urns, and instantly, I coveted cork in my home (and longed for the cork floor in the house I grew up in). She has a way of knowing what her customers would like in their homes, long before they do. “Cork is a completely sustainable material. I’d seen a vintage cork lamp at a flea market. I started looking around and nothing existed – that’s what I find really exciting. It’s often when I’m trying to find something and I see there’s a little gap in the market, that the light bulb goes off.” Flea markets have always been a big source of inspiration for Matilda. It was in a market that she saw a heart-shaped bistro chair which would inspire one of the pieces she designed for her collaboration with Anthropologie (sadly, the chair has completely sold out, as has most of the range).
On the topic of Anthropologie, Matilda says it was a big moment for the brand she started in her sitting room. “It felt like such a great fit,” she says. “We’d been approached to do a few different collaborations over the years, and I’ve always been quite strict about what my criteria for accepting a collaboration and partnering with someone is. For a small brand, our production capabilities we have are limited. We are a small, nimble team. We have some amazing factories all over the world that we work with, but there are a lot of things that just aren’t possible.” Suddenly, the possibilities were endless – rugs, curtains, chairs, candles, blankets. Matilda’s contemporary spin on interior classics became available through one of the world’s most loved retailers. It was a turning point. “It was a great platform to reach a bigger audience in America, where we already have quite a large existing customer base.”
While interiors might light Matilda up, it’s motherhood that has been the making of her. “It’s the most important thing in my life, over work, over anything. I love my work, but being a mother has made me into who I am now,” she says. “I find the juggle is really hard and I’ve never met someone who doesn’t find it hard. It’s about finding your groove and finding routines that work.” She’s found her groove, and then lost it, and found it again. Because the nature of motherhood is nothing lasts forever, and children are always changing.
Both her children were born at home – her daughter in a pool, and her son on her bedroom floor (which wasn’t the plan, but babies don’t care much for birth plans). “My daughter was born in the first strict lockdown in the May of 2020. I’m very open to eastern medicine. I do yoga, breath work and acupuncture, but I definitely didn’t think I would have a home birth for my first baby. I got a pool in the sitting room, just in case, but I thought we’d go to the hospital. Before I knew it, my daughter was born in my sitting room, and I had the most amazing home birth. It was the most empowering thing, suddenly holding your baby in your arms. When I fell pregnant for the second time, I didn’t even really question it. Birthing at home was what I felt comfortable doing. My son was born much quicker. He ended up being born on my bedroom floor.”
Her son August is now seven month’s old. “What I found quite hard was the transition from having one child to two and the shift of my daughter seeing me holding the little baby and breastfeeding and always being with the baby. It’s still something that we’re navigating at the moment. I think because of that reason, she leans on her father a lot because he’s available. I’m trying to carve out time to do stuff with her when I’m not working. It’s always a learning curve, isn’t it?” she says.
Matilda’s studio is walking distance from her home. She does four days a week in the studio with her team. When she’s trying to get into creative thinking, she’ll stay off emails and work from her desk at home. “Emails are just a never ending to-do list, aren’t they?” she says. “I always remember someone telling me, ‘You are never going to get to the bottom of the laundry basket. It’s never ever going to be empty.’ And you could just busy yourself all day tidying the house, but you’re never going to get to the bottom of that. So, I’ll purposely switch off my emails when I’m trying to have a creative day and get stuck into research and books and get that different creative energy going.”
Still, working from home can be incredibly distracting for someone who loves to rearrange rooms. So, what happens when you add two young children into the mix, and the stuff they bring into a home? “I feel like I’m constantly moving stuff from one room to the other. Do you feel like you do that constantly’” she asks. I tell her it’s never-ending. I don’t think I’m ever not transporting something from one room to another. “After the weekend, I might as well have a suitcase to bring everything back to its spot.” Her bedroom is the one room she reserves as her sanctuary. “I try and keep it very clean and clear, but my daughter will always bring toys in when I’m getting changed in the morning. I try and clear it, because there’s something about my bedroom being a mess that sets a bad mindset.” You can talk to Matilda about anything openly – she’s as happy sharing her interior hacks as she is talking about the reality of trying to work while raising kids. “On a more practical level, I’m a big fan of big baskets. We have one in each room to just chuck toys in.”
There’s a lot of mess that comes with motherhood, but there’s also magic. “When I see my daughter kissing her little brother on the head and I realise, I made these little people, it’s magic. For me, it’s about appreciating every little moment as it comes.”