After attending a Semi Permanent seminar on design, Auckland-based Bec Dowie threw herself into designing full-time in 2006, ‘I heard speakers that talked about being a creative with a multidisciplinary practice; this is when I started working across different disciplines and designs,’ the ambitious designer recalls.
The following year, the New Zealander teamed up with her Dad, Douglas Snelling to launch their eponymous label, Douglas and Bec. The 37 years between the pair makes for a vast and diverse wealth of design acumen, as does Douglas’ background in farming and engineering, alongside Bec’s Bachelor of Fine Arts education.
The design studio recently opened a new Collingwood showroom, designed by New Zealand interior designer Rufus Knight. Between this Melbourne location, their Auckland base and Clevedon workshop, they’ve recently released Arch – their impressive latest collection of handcrafted furniture and lighting.
Unveiled at Denfair, this latest collection came together over nine months, which Bec points out is a bit longer than usual because they were invested in making ‘monumental’ designs that would be very much their own. ‘We thought a lot about it, and did a great deal of research for employing new techniques, such as cane work and steel lather work.’
The Arch Chair takes cues from classic Parisian brasserie chairs. This piece combines steam-bent American Ash frame and rattan lining. ‘It also draws inspiration from my Mother, who recently passed away,’ adds Bec. ‘It’s elegance epitomises her impeccable taste in interiors, for which I am very thankful.’
The Arch Vanity Chair, Arch Vanity Mirror and Arch Vanity Table also explore ideas of elegance and femininity. ‘We wanted to evolve from very formal square lines and do something different and curvaceous, whilst still remaining simple,’ explains Bec.
The range also includes new lighting – a floor lamp, three varieties of pendant lamps, a table lamp and wall light. ‘We machine all of our brass parts in-house so everything is made, nothing is off the shelf,’ Bec tells, adding that they also 3-D print their own globes! Again, the aesthetic is tied in with family; the lights are a modern twist on glass-panel lights that both Douglas’ Mother and Aunt once owned.
With this recent collection, Douglas and Bec has taken more of an artistic journey, revelling in the challenge of a new creative direction. ‘I’m super excited about our designs sitting somewhere between tactility and poetry,’ beams Bec. ‘I love the feeling that it’s really our work; it inspires us to keep creating with a lot of thought and sensitivity.’