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We caught up with Sanderson’s Licensing Manager Liz Bonnert, Head of Partnerships Fleur Neal and Licensing Assistant Dhamina Mistry to find out more about its portfolio of brands.
Sanderson Design Group is a luxury interior furnishings company that designs, manufactures and markets wallpapers, fabrics and paints.
Boasting the mantra ‘To bring the Beautiful into People’s Homes and Lives’, Sanderson is both a licensee and a licensor, being the home of a portfolio of well-loved brands including Zoffany, Sanderson, Morris & Co., Harlequin, Scion, Anthology and Clarke & Clarke.
We caught up with Sanderson’s Licensing Manager Liz Bonnert, Head of Partnerships Fleur Neal and Licensing Assistant Dhamina Mistry to find out more about its portfolio of brands – and how the company’s archive helps to fuel creativity.
Dhamina, Liz, Fleur – it’s great to connect! Most people we speak with say they ‘fell’ into working with brands. Was that your experience or can I finally say I’ve spoken to folks who intended to work in this area?
Liz Bonnert, Licensing Manager, Sanderson Design Group: Yes, like most, I did fall into licensing. I started my career with an apparel supplier, mainly working with character and entertainment licences. Having worked on the licensee side for a few years, I moved to Sanderson Design Group three years ago, making the switch to working for a licensor and I thoroughly enjoy it!
It’s such a privilege to work with the amazing group of brands in our portfolio and to have the opportunity to work across so many exciting projects on such a diverse range of product categories.
“Across our portfolio of seven brands, we would want to work with somebody who embodies our brand’s identities and values – but who can also bring something new.”
Fleur Neal, Head of Partnerships, Sanderson Design Group: My career started in marketing, but I have always been hugely passionate about the power of brands. I moved into a pure licensing role five years ago and I can honestly say I’ve never looked back. The opportunity to work with a variety of businesses and seeing the brands I’m so passionate about come to life across so many different product categories is what brings me joy every day.
Dhamina Mistry, Licensing Assistant, Sanderson Design Group: I had little knowledge of the licensing industry when I started in this role three years ago but was hugely passionate about the brands in the portfolio. I quickly learned there was a whole world around putting your favourite designs on to new products. I’ve gained so much knowledge and it’s such a joy to be part of some exciting projects! I feel very lucky to be working with some amazing brands and fantastic partnerships.
Great stuff. Now, for anyone new to Sanderson, could you give us a quick run-down of your portfolio of brands, and some of their key distinctions?
Sanderson Design Group is a collective of quintessentially British luxury interior brands united in a single purpose: To bring the beautiful into people’s homes and lives. Our portfolio ranges from classic heritage brands such as Sanderson and Morris & Co. to contemporary brands such as Harlequin, Clarke & Clarke and Scion.
We have a dedicated licensing team working with over 40 commercial partnerships in more than 60 countries and are the proud recipients of B&LLA awards for our Scion and Morris & Co. brands.
We are also unique in the marketplace, offering an all-British manufacturing base for our core products, with our two historic factories producing the finest quality wallpapers and textiles.
As the owner of design-based brands, do your partners need to embrace a certain creative way of thinking when taking your designs into other sectors?
Not necessarily. Although we are design-based, each of our brands has its own personality and story to tell. We have experienced and talented design teams for each of our brands who work closely with our licensing partners to ensure the end product reflects the individual brand character. As design-based brands, it gives our partners more freedom to be creative and we have seen this across many of our collaborations.
Are there any recent partnerships that you think highlight the sorts of creative collaborations Sanderson brands lend themselves to?
The Morris & Co. collaboration with luxury fashion house Loewe took classic iconic designs and reimagined these into a punk-inspired fashion collection. This was a reflection of how heritage brands are absolutely relevant today.
In 2020, we launched two exciting new partnerships for Morris & Co. with global watch brand August Berg and nursery brand DockaTot. This is an example of applying our brands onto two very different categories and with varying scales.
The results of both collaborations are truly beautiful and show that with a little bit of creativity our brands can be applied to many categories enabling people to enjoy these incredible designs in so many different forms.
While your brands don’t have characters or worlds for partners to lean on, your IP has incredible heritage and history. Is it important to convey this through your brand extensions?
Absolutely! As I mentioned, it’s important that our partners and products are aligned with our values and ethos. For heritage brands like Morris & Co. or Sanderson, who are both celebrating their 160th anniversary, it’s about their history and telling the story behind the designs. Whereas for Scion or Harlequin it would be about the personality and playfulness of the brands, their designs and their characters. We reflect the provenance of our heritage brands by drawing on their respective histories.
Alongside consumer products, do you see opportunities in licensed experiences, like gallery exhibitions or branded hotel suites?
We certainly do! We have an extensive archive which dates back to the mid-19th Century and is a treasure trove of design through the ages.
“Our main source of inspiration of course comes from our archive! Dating back to 1860, it features everything from hand painted designs, fabric prints and wallpaper to original wooden printing blocks.”
As well as being a brand owner, you’re also a licensee – one recent collab that I thought looked fantastic was your National Trust partnership. How did this come about and what approach did you take in bringing that brand to life in a fabrics line?
We are lucky to have had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing people, most recently with the National Trust for our Sanderson brand and also with world renowned interior designer Ben Pentreath on Morris & Co.
We have a long-standing relationship with the National Trust so it made sense to collaborate in a year which saw us celebrate Sanderson’s 160th and National Trust’s 125th anniversaries respectively. Titled ‘A Celebration of the National Trust’ the collection is exactly that.
Returning to Sanderson heartland, it commemorates the National Trust’s ongoing commitment to conserving our natural and cultural heritage, teamed with documents from the extensive Sanderson archive, creating a unique and compelling design story using eco-inks and sustainable cotton.
We’ve no doubt that lovers of interior design rejoiced – as we did – at our collaboration with Ben Pentreath for the ‘Queen Square Collection for Morris & Co’. A seamless meeting of minds, Ben was invited to our archive, taking many original patterns and recolouring them for fabric and wallpaper in a palette of his favourite colours, casting William Morris’ iconic designs in a completely new light.
Ben’s knowledge and clear vision was instrumental in creating this collection and combined with our passions, preserved the integrity of Morris’s production methods, matching as close as possible to archival Morris & Co pattern books.
As a licensee, what sort of brands do you look to work with? And what’s key to ensuring a fruitful, creative collaboration?
We don’t do this very often but when we do, we want to ensure it’s the perfect partnership. Across our portfolio of seven brands, we would want to work with somebody who embodies our brand’s identities and values but who can also bring something new.
Last question! How do you fuel your creativity?
Our main source of inspiration of course comes from our archive! Dating back to 1860, it features everything from hand painted designs, fabric prints and wallpaper to original wooden printing blocks. It keeps our designers inspired and in constant dialogue with our proud heritage.
But inspiration can come from anywhere so it’s always great to learn more through museums and art galleries, experiencing new cultures and trips aboard – when we could! -nature and working with our fantastic design teams.
Absolutely! Well guys, this has been great. Thanks again for taking time out to chat! And I should add, if anyone would like to get in touch with the Sanderson team, you should contact email@example.com.
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