Biltmore: A Laboratory of Ideas
George Vanderbilt probably never imagined that his home would one day serve as inspiration for the development of retail items, ranging from formal china to hand-scraped hard wood floors. Today, just that is happening in Asheville, N.C., with the growth of Biltmore® For Your Home and Biltmore® Chateau Reserve branded products. Designers from across the United States are coming to Biltmore to explore the estate, looking for inspiration—perhaps an iron railing or stone carving detail—that will become the next top selling design for their companies.
The development process itself is true to industry standards, but the environment or laboratory at Biltmore cannot be replicated. Once licensing contracts are signed, company representatives spend several days touring the estate with licensees—visiting Biltmore House, the grounds, the winery, estate barns and other structures. Areas that are normally closed to the public are opened to licensed partners. Many consider it a dream assignment and an exciting opportunity to demonstrate their craft.
No two people find inspiration in the same place, and with 8,000 acres, it is easy to understand why. The collection in Biltmore House alone includes more than 70,000 art objects and antiques, including priceless works of art from all over the world and fine furnishings from a range of design periods. Inspirations take many forms. Some products are very literal reproductions of the original, while others start as a delicate ink well or a rose from the Walled Garden and return from the production line as home furnishings, home building products, outdoor living or landscaping items. Another great example, taking a cue from the estate’s six restaurants, is Biltmore’s venture into the gourmet food category with a line of dressings and marinades inspired by estate chefs and the Vanderbilt’s legendary love of food and entertaining.
The grounds feature spectacular formal gardens, rolling hills, forests and farmland. There are many old homes and barns on the property, a contrast to the opulent Biltmore House, but with subtle details equally as enchanting. Something as simple as an architectural element may provide ideas for an entire line of outdoor planters and accessories, or brilliant flowers in the gardens may offer suggestions for a range of beautiful rug designs or lavish bedding. Even the estate itself, a world away from life’s demands, reveals a sanctuary inside its preserved boundaries. Untouched mountain views, protected wildlife and quiet footpaths invite visitors to slow down and step back in time. Licensees, too, enjoy the experience and find creative ways to adapt this retreat for today’s homes.
Results of this process take on every shape and appeal to a broad range of consumer tastes. The Biltmore® For Your Home and premium brand Biltmore® Chateau Reserve names reflect the craftsmanship and quality found at Biltmore. The product itself, however, serves as a memento of something that caught a designer or chef’s eye among a million possibilities.
About Biltmore's Licensing Division
Launched in 1990, Biltmore's licensing division has grown to be a highly recognized brand, drawing on the historical treasures and inspiration found in Biltmore House and gardens. Through Biltmore® For Your Home and Biltmore® Chateau Reserve, consumers are able to experience both the classic designs found in George Vanderbilt's grand collection of art and furnishings, and the relaxed enjoyment of fine country living.
Current Biltmore licensees include Amarr Garage Doors, Anderson Hardwood Floors, Artaissance, Atlanta Cheesecake Company, Austin, Belk, Burton + Burton, Capel Rugs, Cottage Gardens, ELK Lighting, Ellington Fans, Encore/Sarreid, Fisher Farms, Habersham, Habersham Feathers, Herter Nursery, Indital USA Stair Parts, Larson-Juhl, Manual Woodworkers & Weavers, Moulding Associates, Inc., Netherland Bulb Co., Oriental Accent, Ridgeway Clock Company, ShadeTree Canopies, Southern Living House Plans, Unique Stone, and Vita Food Products.
To learn more about Biltmore's licensing division, visit www.bringbiltmorehome.com.