New Zealand Designers Douglas and Bec

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This story was part of a larger print feature in the Winter 2019 issue on New Zealand designers.

DOUGLAS SNELLING AND BEC DOWIE’S professional relationship began when they constructed a laminated plywood lamp together, but their personal relationship was established much earlier than that. After all, they’re father and daughter.

The pair started their business in 2006, working out of a garage in Clevedon, a small rural community on the North Island’s Hauraki Gulf. From the beginning, there was a clear division of labor: Dowie, who received a BFA from Whitecliffe College of Arts & Design in Auckland, is the ideas person; her father—a farmer, cottage builder, and former engineer—is the maker. (Dowie’s husband, Paul, pitches in on the marketing and financial side.)

Bec Dowie (left) and Douglas Snelling (right).

Gravitating to materials like American ash wood—and what they call its “painterly, marble-like grain”—as well as brass, brushed chrome, and velvet, the duo excels at devising lively color combinations. The hand-blown glass bulb of the Line floor lamp illustrated here is supported by a slender, golden yellow brass rod that sprouts from a planter-like, blush-painted wooden base. It’s a candy-colored vision that’s nearly Sottsassian. Despite the sleek materials, the pair takes pride in their work’s craftedness, which hearkens to a time spent building livestock pens and other such necessities on the beef and cattle farm where Bec was raised.

In their new collection, entitled Turn, Douglas and Bec reference the Dutch baroque. The palette of the fourteen pieces was inspired by the work of still-life painters like Juan Sanchez Cotan, Floris van Schooten, and Juan van der Hamen, and designs like the Turn floor lamp and table lamp tip their caps to the peaked hats popular during the period.

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Alexander Calder’s work was the inspiration for the Line floor lamp, 2015.

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