Furniture is a Family Affair for This New Zealand Line

Furniture is a Family Affair for This New Zealand Line

When one Auckland designer created a line of refined furnishings, she turned to her father to bring it all to life.

In 2006, designer Bec Dowie started Workroom Design—her line of understated furniture and lighting—in Auckland, New Zealand. To translate her vision into reality, she turned to her father, Douglas Shelling, who crafted all of the pieces by hand. Since then, the company has expanded year-upon-year to include Bec's husband, Paul Dowie, as well as a team of artisans still led by Shelling. Along the way, the brand changed its name to that of its original team: Douglas and Bec.

"Coming from a fine-art background, I'm often influenced by other artists. For this collection I have drawn inspiration from Alexander Calder’s hanging and standing mobiles," says designer Bec Dowie of Douglas and Bec's new Line collection. "This inspiration is transcribed in all the pieces: the playful urge to elongate lines, explore balance both physically and aesthetically using honest materials."

The duo have just released their lastest collection, Line, which introduces new materials for the brand, and proves that even as the company grows their partnership is as fruitful as ever. "I still lead the design and ideas but he heavily contributes," Dowie says. "The combination seems to work well."

The collection introduces new materials and finishes for the brand, including hand–blown glass, blackened brass, steel, painted timber, and state-of-the art LED bulbs, in pieces like the Line floor lamp in blush.

As the brand continutes to grow internationally—they now have stores in New Zealand and Melbourne, Australia—their focus remains local. All pieces, like the Line table and table lamp, both seen here in black, are manufactured by Shelling and his team of artisans in their Clevedon studio.

"I always have ideas floating around, inspired by a number of deferent things: previous generations, art, technology, color," says Dowie. "I think a lot and process these ideas through thought—it is the ideas that keep coming back that we end up developing." In the case of the Line collection, the balance and lightness of Alexander Calder's mobiles was pared with practicality. "It's perhaps a more romantic approach, but I do hope to strike a balance between form and function."

After nearly a decade of collaboration, Dowie and Shelling continue to work together on projects ranging from their signature line to bespoke pieces for major hotels and restaurants around the world. "Dad and I work incredibly well together. We have and instinctual and intuitive understanding," says Dowie. "He has the engineering brain—a problem solver—but he also has a great creative mind and understanding of scale and proportion combined with his extensive practical skills."


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