Bec Dowie reflects on a new range and a decade of design with her father Douglas Snelling in their expanding business
Bec Dowie of Douglas and Bec discusses their new range ‘Arch’
“I never set out to be a designer as such,” says Bec Dowie, one half of father-daughter business Douglas & Bec. “I just loved making beautiful things with my father.” Ten years on – “We strive for excellence, but we still have a lot to achieve” – Dowie and Snelling have released a new range, ‘Arch’, which draws on the curvilinear shapes of the 1920s and 1930s.
There’s a personal history in the collection, with references to your grandparents and great aunt. How did that transpire?
There’s always a personal narrative in my work. I was lucky to grow up surrounded by art and beauty. It wasn’t necessarily luxurious, since we lived on a modest farm, but there was understated style – and everything had a functional purpose.
Why did that period appeal?
My family had furniture of this era; it evokes romance and femininity.
It’s distinctly modern – how did you keep it contemporary?
Playfulness and modern tactility are always evident in my work and articulated in the shapes and materials that lend a contemporary aesthetic.
You took time over this collection.
The design process has become slower, which brings a depth of thought and strong conceptual grounds. There’s a lot of research, critique and resolution to it. Contrary to our nostalgic tip-of-the-hat, this collection uses CNC, rapid prototyping and LED systems, as well as traditional techniques of steam bending, cane work and wood turning.
Tell us about your new Melbourne store.
Australia is an expanding market for us – we opened there in 2014. To give the new showroom the sincerity of Douglas & Bec, we worked with interior architect Rufus Knight, who we’ve collaborated with on projects over the years. He knows exactly what I’m trying to achieve with brand identity.