“Most people actually gasp when they see it,” says Lisa Montague, the CEO of Sanderson Design Group, a family of fabric and wallcovering brands that includes Morris & Co, Zoffany and many others. “It” is not violent, avant garde or erotic—it’s Disney. This summer, Sanderson partnered with the house that Mickey built and released a line of patterns inspired by classic Disney animation: One Hundred and One Dalmatians, Dumbo, Snow White and Winnie the Pooh all feature. It’s an unexpected move for an extremely dignified 160-year-old British pattern company (hence the gasps), but that’s the point. Montague, who joined Sanderson fresh off a stint at the LVMH-owned Spanish luxury fashion brand Loewe, says that surprising collabs are one of the keys to revitalizing a heritage brand—a skill that has become her calling card.
“[I’ve found that] the notoriety of these beautiful heritage brands doesn’t compute to the size of the business,” she tells host Dennis Scully on the latest episode of The Business of Home Podcast. “You have to do something to dust it off and make it sing.”
Elsewhere on the show, Montague discusses secrets of the LVMH playbook, the home industry’s surprising lack of data and how AI will impact design.
Crucial insight: In America, it can be easy to obsess about the ups and downs of the market. The view from across the pond is a lot simpler. Montague sees the U.S. as an incredible market, and her number-one target for growth. “It’s inconceivable to me that the U.K. business for our brands is significantly greater than our U.S. business, which is a far greater market,” she says. “Why is a mystery to me.”
Key quote: “One of the things I really enjoy about the slightly slower pace of the home industry compared to fashion is that we have the luxury of developing product until it’s right to launch,” says Montague. “It’s not rushing, [as one might in fashion] because ‘if you’ve missed September you’ve missed the season.’ In home, it doesn’t matter which day a product launches, as long as it is the best version it can be.”
The Thursday Show
Meanwhile, on the latest episode of The Thursday Show, Scully and BOH executive editor Fred Nicolaus dissect the most recent news in the design industry, including a furniture acquisition, some surprising housing stats and why ivory boucle may finally be on its way out. Later, Laiza Cors of influencer marketing agency Embello explains why she thinks virtual showhouses have a future.
Homepage photo: Courtesy of Sanderson Design Group