While taking on the laborious process of digitizing its archives, Sanderson Design Group discovered a trove of jubilant, decades-old prints for Walt Disney Studios, a collaborator since 1928. Aware that the iconic entertainment company would be commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2023, Sanderson reached out to the House of Mouse to see if the historic designs might be due for a revival.
“They were surprised we still had this collection—and we didn’t realize how many we had,” Claire Vallis, design director at Sanderson Design Group, tells AD PRO. Of little surprise? The designs were enchanting—illustrating scenes as adored today as they were back then: Mickey Mouse piloting a 1930s plane through rippled clouds; Winnie the Pooh and friends savoring the woodlands, rendered in watercolor; and a buoyant Minnie Mouse in goggles cruising in an open-top automobile. As of this week, the uncovered designs—with some minor retooling—are debuting as part of the Disney Home x Sanderson range of 14 wallpaper and 12 fabric styles in connection with Disney’s ongoing centenary celebrations.
Some patterns retain the exact proportions and details of the originals, including a mélange of scenes plucked directly from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (Disney’s first full-length animated feature), and a scene that references a 1920s cartoon of Mickey, Minnie, and Clarabelle Cow frolicking on a farm. Another features a black and white sketch of Mickey Mouse, now backdropped by a classic Sanderson stripe.
Others imaginatively meld old and new elements. Consider the hand-painted gouache Bambi, for which Sanderson weaved Disney drawings into its own vintage floral textile evocative of the English countryside. Or Dumbo, depicted in a brand-new yet retro-tinged circus vignette starring the beloved flying elephant. A bygone Sanderson creation, meanwhile, was the springboard to the 101 Dalmatians motif. “We had this beautiful toile that we showed Disney, and they gave us access to their archives to take 101 Dalmatians drawings and place them into it. It’s a wonderful, whimsical story of a walk in the park,” says Vallis.