Natural World: The inside story

Home accessories from the National Trust's autumn shopping range

Every season our designers search our places across the country to find inspiration for our shop collections. Whether it’s a perfectly preserved pressed flower collected by a Victorian Botanist, or the pattern on a Jacobean wall hanging, our designers find inspiration in surprising places.

This autumn, the Natural World shop collection explores objects and works of art that have been collected to study and record the beauty of nature. Discover the story behind this unique collection of home accessories, kitchen ceramics and women's accessories.

The pattern and colours for the Natural World collection came from delving into curiosity cabinets and carefully preserved collections around the country. We spoke to Senior Retail Designer, Laura, to learn more about some of the prints in our 2018 autumn and Christmas collections. 

Retail designers photograph the herbarium at Felbrigg Hall, Norfolk

Where did you find inspiration?

Nature and art have always gone hand in hand so we wanted to draw on the natural history in our collections. Our Felbrigg Herbarium print is inspired by a herbarium of over 140 pressed plants, housed at Felbrigg Hall in Norfolk. A collection of preserved flora and fauna, herbariums were used by 19th-century botanists as a way to store and study plants for scientific research. We were lucky enough to see these beautiful specimens for ourselves and were shown them by Mellissa Tadd, House Steward at Felbrigg Hall.

Sketches from the National Trust's Natural World print designs

How did you bring the print to life?

We took close-up photographs of each plant and took the images back to our studio to study. Using the photos, we painted each specimen separately using inks and watercolours to try and capture the pressed form and individual shape. These paintings were then scanned in, carefully composed and put into a repeat pattern digitally, which became the hero print of the collection. You’ll see the final design on ladies accessories, home and kitchen.

" Nature and art have always gone hand in hand."
- Laura Vincent, Senior Retail Designer
Senior Retail Designer Laura photographing a harvest jug at A La Ronde in Devon

What can you tell us about the Christmas print?

Inspiration for our Natural World Christmas print came from A La Ronde in Devon. We walked through the rooms of crafts and curiosities built up over the years by cousins Jane and Mary Parminter. In one of the rooms we came across a 19th-century harvest jug embellished with birds, trailing flowers and the inscription – peace. We thought this was perfect for a Christmas print. For our final design, we painted joyful motifs which reflected the pattern on the jug, and added a leaping hare and festive stag.

National Trust Cotehele Floral Garland Scarf

Inspired by nature's canvas

Alongside our two Felbrigg Herbarium and A La Ronde prints, we have a range of other complementary autumn and Christmas designs which you’ll see across cushions, throws, scarves and crockery. Browse our shop to see designs influenced by the illustrations of a 16th-century botanist, to cormorant feathers from the extensive natural history collection at Calke Abbey, Derbyshire.

Shop the collection