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Douglas + Bec for Kate Sylvester


1st October, 2012
Lucy Feagins
Monday 1st October 2012

Douglas + Bec for Kate Sylvester furniture, lighting and homewares range

Douglas + Bec for Kate Sylvester - love the combo of ballet blush, timber, brass and red accents!

How outrageously beautiful is this!?  An inspired collaboration by our fave New Zealand design team, Douglas + Bec of Workroom Design, and NZ fashion wonderwoman Kate Sylvester!?  I can truthfully say I have not been THIS EXCITED about a creative collaboration for QUITE SOME TIME.

The range of occasional furniture and lighting is designed by Rebecca Snelling, in response to the timeless Kate Sylvester aesthetic.   As with all Douglas + Bec pieces, each piece is handcrafted in New Zealand by Rebecca’s father Douglas Snelling.

As you can see, the collection retains Douglas + Bec's contemporary yet classic design sensibility, updated and softened with a fresh new colour palette.  I am LOVING the soft blush and powder blue palette, paired with white oak, brass and buttery leather.  There is an elegant, understated sophistication going on here that really does seem to perfectly connect and encapsulate these two much loved New Zealand design brands.

'This collaboration has been so amazing' says Rebecca.  'Kate's practice is so celebrated and successful, and for us, a new and emerging brand, to work with Kate Sylvester has been so inspiring, and has pushed my work in new directions'.

We were curious to learn how this stellar collab came about, so we asked Rebecca a few questions about the process of working with Kate Sylvester -

What was the starting point for this collaboration?

Wayne Conway visited our store in St Mary's bay after both he and Kate had had several late night peruses through our shop window. He was greeted by Zoe (our main lady) who actually worked for Kate Sylvester for 6 years before she came to us.  Wayne was interested to learn the story behind Douglas + Bec, and from there we decided to bite the bullet and send an email, which was followed by 'lets do this'!

In seeing the collection it's clear that Douglas + Bec shares a similar aesthetic to Kate Sylvester.  Through the course of this collaboration, did you find you had a lot in common with Kate?

There are many common threads between Kate's design approach and my own practice.  Aside from aesthetics, there is also a shared concern about the construction and the craft of products and garments, a sincerity and sensibility about materials used, a passion for keeping manufacturing local, and of course placing the environment foremost in our making process.

Can you give us a little insight into the process of creating this range - from inspiration through to production?

After being rather self directed for the past four years, to have something specific to respond to was really enlightening.  For me it was like being back at University.

Wayne and Kate decided basically that I was to present them with five different pieces - 'Kate' appropriations or renditions of my existing work,  as well as new work.  We ended up with ten pieces in the collection - four updates to existing designs in our collection, three brand new designs, and three especially for Kate!   There actually wasn't any culling - I think it would have been mean to leave any one of them out, they all seemed to play a role.  In this case more was more.

I felt like I understood the Kate Sylvester brand well, both from being a fan of it over years, and then gaining another level of insight into the brand after meeting Kate and Wayne.  Whilst developing my ideas I also found myself having inner dialogues/critiques with Kate about my ideas before presenting them - haha crazy I know! But it was so important to me that she liked it.

Talk us through the use of colour, the textures and finishes that you selected for this range.

Kate talked me through the 'All my heart' collection and I had studied her 'Secretary' collection through and through. There were strong overarching themes - accents of red, details of gold, the colour pallette (ballet blush, mint, soft grey, camel) with the signature duck egg blue.

I applied these 'Kate' moments of red, gold and the neutral soft colour pallet to our signature timber, introduced a polished brass and matte leather - everything just seemed to sing.  Keeping the designs simple and allowing the materials to sing is something fundamental in what I do.  The collection evolved so naturally, as the Kate Sylvester aesthetic is not far from my own, though it does perhaps bring out a femininity and softens my designs.

The Douglas + Bec x Kate Sylvester range is available online at Douglas & Bec today (!!), and will be available in all Kate Sylvester stores (including Paddington, Sydney) and at the Douglas + Bec retail shop in Ponsonby, Auckland from this Friday October 5th.

Douglas + Bec for Kate Sylvester furniture, lighting and homewares range

Douglas + Bec for Kate Sylvester furniture, lighting and homewares range

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