Douglas and Bec may have been in business for 10 years but it is a relationship that has been for a lifetime. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Douglas and Bec is the partnership between father and daughter Douglas Snelling and Bec Dowie who create handmade furniture and lighting that is as timeless as their relationship and values.
While Bec was studying for her Bachelor in Fine Arts she started making things with her father, who has a background in engineering and farming. “Growing up on a farm I used to help dad make and fix things and I always loved working together and learning from him,” Bec explains. “Today it is fundamentally still the same process as when we started: I design and Douglas makes. However, now he oversees his team of cabinetmakers and focuses more on product development.”
Douglas and Bec designs and produces lighting and furniture that is timeless, refined and playful and uses rich natural materials. Their work has simplicity and honesty, which is reflective of their own “less is more” lifestyle as they reside rurally and source locally. Staying local is also Douglas and Bec’s approach to craftsmanship and manufacturing, with each product made in New Zealand via a network of suppliers and makers. This not only feeds the local industry but also allows Douglas and Bec to be more experimental.
In 2014 Douglas and Bec opened a showroom and office in Collingwood, Melbourne, which has fuelled overseas interest and commissions. This includes working closely with Sydney design firm Arent&Pyke to create bespoke furniture for the award-winning Alex Hotel in Perth. “It was a mammoth and super valuable job and it really highlighted our capabilities in producing custom pieces for large-scale projects,” Bec says. They also designed and manufactured lighting features for projects throughout Australia and worldwide, including the Garden State Hotel in Melbourne, Hotel Panache in Paris and Whitegrass restaurant in Singapore.
Douglas and Bec also releases its own collections with the latest, Pare, inspired by New Zealand’s regionalist art movement. Bec translated the beauty, honesty and isolation of rural life in New Zealand, as depicted by painters such as Rita Angus and Christopher Perkins, into lighting and furniture in which tones of moss green, stone, fog and warm chestnut are juxtaposed with veiny marbles, bright cool whites and brushed brass components.
While Bec has her ambitions firmly set on developing their international following, keeping production local remains a priority. Indeed, like Douglas and Bec who have been making things together since Bec was young, the fundamental relationships and values of their business have not changed.
Words by Rebecca Gross
Photography: Café Laffare – Steve Xeu. All other images courtesy of Douglas and Bec