Written by Karen Walker

Dunelm’s Head of Design on Natural History collaboration

The new Dunelm x Natural History Museum collaboration celebrates the wonders of our natural world. The museum’s vast biological collections of 80 million objects and specimens inspired bespoke designs for furniture, soft furnishings, wallpaper, beddings, upholstery and home accessories. Dunelm’s head of design, Debbie Drake chats about the project, her own design heroes and advice for aspiring interior designers…

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Tell us about your background…

I studied fashion at college, starting my career designing clothing for M&S, and it was while sourcing textiles in India I took an interest in home furnishings. I love the enduring nature of interiors, and have been at Dunelm for over eight years.

Debbie Drake, head of design at Dunelm. Photo: Dunelm

How did Dunelm x Natural History Museum come about?

We met ‘virtually’ just before Christmas 2020, and the conversation really opened my eyes to the great work they’re doing to understand and protect biodiversity. We were aligned in an ambition to reconnect people with nature and support more sustainable living, so agreed to develop an exclusive range of beautiful, long-lasting homeware pieces, with everything designed with the museum’s guidance every step of the way.

Dunelm Natural History Museum wallpaper and childrens bedroom

All About Dinosaurs white wallpaper, £9, Dunelm

What piece really stands out for you?

The initial launch features around 160 lines, but for me, it has to be the display cabinet – its handles are an exact replica of those in the drawers of the museum’s famous Sloane’s Herbarium.

Dunelm Natural History Museum wall cabinet

Small glazed display cabinet, £549, Dunelm

Who’s your design hero?

Architect Antoni Gaudi, as all his creations are organic devotions to nature, which appear to have grown, rather than been built.

Where do you go for inspiration?

My garden. Being out in the fresh air frees up my mind up for creative ideas to find me.

Dunelm Natural History Museum bird house

Bird house, £18, Dunelm

What advice would you give an aspiring designer?

That whether it’s product quality or working practises, it’s important to establish and stick to your own guiding principles, so you always have pride in your work.  

Botanical footstool with armchair

Marlow Marsh botanical print footstool, £249, Dunelm

Highlights of the The Dunelm x Natural History Museum collaboration

The Signature Collection: Furniture, cloches, prints, home fragrance and terrariums that will help you connect with the museum’s unique architectural details and unmistakable Victorian décor.

The Wetlands Collection: Throughout the collaboration, a series of themes reflecting different areas of significant environmental interest will be introduced. Curtains, wallpaper, bedding, cushions, upholstered furniture and home accessories will feature some of the wonderful species to be found in these vulnerable ecosystems.

Children’s Collection: The museum is renowned for its world-class dinosaur and oceanic collections. Dinosaurs in particular have great appeal for children, so the collection includes some extra-special designs featuring the fearsome creatures that both entertain and inform.

Shop the Natural History Museum collection in store and online at dunelm.com 


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