Design: First-Class Deliveries No 1: Waddesdon Manor
Friday 13 November 1998
Waddesdon Manor is managed on behalf of the National Trust by a Rothschild trust. Its first ever mail-order catalogue is a revelation: the traditional offerings of potpourri, soaps and tea towels are nowhere to be seen. In their place is a selection of Rothschild wines, pretty china, well-designed children's toys and an assortment of gifts.
It's slim but classy - all the items are inspired by Waddesdon's own collection: ravishing notecards and boxed coasters inspired by a dark blue, Sevres orange tub, c1745, fluted wine glasses and a handsome, red- leather box decorated with a gold-tooled design taken from an 18th-century French bookbinding in the Waddesdon library.
The visionary behind these imaginative objects is Sara Sweetland, who was given a free hand to re-design the shop and its merchandise by Lord Rothschild. Sweetland says: "Rather than produce heavy duty replicas, it makes sense to capture the spirit of Waddesdon by designing a range of goods taking elements from some of the items on display. I wanted to make the shop as visually exciting as the house itself - with the added buzz that you can buy the things you're seeing. Another mission is to keep the price down."
Best buy: the set of four Sevres table mats, featuring a Sevres, porcelain roundel, c1780, in the Tower Room at Waddesdon for pounds 12.95
Worst buy: the four pin cushions in the shape of twee shoes, pounds 6.75 each.
Waddesdon Manor, Aylesbury, Bucks (01296 651282 ext 241)
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