The six-piece collection, titled Bedroom, is the latest from father-daughter team Douglas Snelling and Bec Dowie, who continue to successfully grow their furniture and lighting design business in New Zealand and across the ditch.
Each piece is made by local craftspeople, and Douglas himself. Inspiration for the design comes from a treasured family possession of Bec’s, a mahogany Queen Anne dressing table. This sparked an idea for a dressing table made of solid American ash, with a handcrafted steam bent mirror frame and handcrafted brass feet and pulls – it’s become the hero of the collection, with bed head, night stand, lowboy, lamp bases and sideboard completing the design story.
“It’s bit of a self-indulgent design – I don’t think I’m going to sell hundreds and thousands of the dresser, but I really wanted to do that piece,” says Bec.
Douglas’ grandfather was a wood turner, a legacy which lives on in the collection’s DS Turned lamps – the Kauri bases were handturned by Douglas himself in his Clevedon studio, and beautifully painted by Bec in a palette of greys, greens, and yellows.
Bec says she often looks to her grandparent’s era to inspire her product design. “I take leads from my previous generations and their ability to live simply and slowly, yet with style and a hint of luxury.
“Also, they were very involved in the community. It’s great that dad and I have got to the stage of our business where we can outsource to artisans in the local community, feeding the economy.”
Since 2006, the Douglas and Bec brand has grown to three stores, two of which are in Auckland in St Mary’s Bay and the BLOC showroom in Mount Eden. A store in Melbourne’s grungy yet cool suburb of Collingwood was opened earlier this year.
“We’ve had a following in Australia for some time, from Kiwi expats and social media. Kiwis are very patriotic. It’s all been a real help to us,” says Bec. She’s recently returned from a trip to Sydney, in talks with architects about the brand’s furniture.
Locally, the Douglas and Bec retail component has also opened doors to commercial work and collaborations, including a custom atomic chandelier for the Sugar Club in Auckland’s SkyCity (pictured above), commissioned by architecture firm Jasmax, and a design of chairs, stools and tables for the America’s Cup restaurant Waiheke Island Yacht Club in San Francisco, with architecture firm Fearon Hay.
Other collaborators include hospitality heavy weight The Hip Group and fashion designer Kate Sylvester. Last year, the Auckland University of Technology invited Bec to mentor second-year Industrial Design students at the Auckland University of Technology.
Of the stores helping her to secure these commercially viable jobs, Bec confirms that “one feeds the other.”
So what’s the secret to the brand’s burgeoning success? “We just present really honest work, and materials that speak for themselves, rather than follow the latest trends. I want to make pieces that are classic and last a lifetime – this collection nails that.”