Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8 Page 9 Page 10 Page 11 Page 12 Page 13 Page 14 Page 15 Page 16 Page 17 Page 18 Page 19 Page 20 Page 21 Page 22 Page 23 Page 24 Page 25 Page 26 Page 27 Page 28 Page 29 Page 30 Page 31 Page 32 Page 33 Page 34 Page 35 Page 36 Page 37 Page 38 Page 39 Page 40 Page 41 Page 42 Page 43 Page 44 Page 45 Page 46 Page 47 Page 48 Page 49 Page 50 Page 51 Page 52 Page 53 Page 54 Page 55 Page 56 Page 57 Page 58 Page 59 Page 60 Page 61 Page 62 Page 63 Page 64 Page 65 Page 66 Page 67 Page 68 Page 69 Page 70 Page 71 Page 72 Page 73 Page 74 Page 75 Page 76 Page 77 Page 78 Page 79 Page 80 Page 81 Page 82 Page 83 Page 84 Page 85 Page 86 Page 87 Page 88 Page 89 Page 90 Page 91 Page 92 Page 93 Page 94 Page 95 Page 96 Page 97 Page 98 Page 99 Page 100 Page 101 Page 102 Page 103 Page 104 Page 105Their first home together was a large corner room with a small kitchenette, in a Victorian villa at 4 Onslow Avenue, Elizabeth Bay. Formerly occupied by Sir Justice and Lady Street, the house had been split into flats, with occupants sharing the bathrooms. The Snellings’ room had an outlook across Elizabeth Bay. After arranging to be listed in the Sydney telephone book (for the first time),Snelling set up a drawing table, on which he designed his murals, early interiors and the first chairs for his soon–to–be nationally famous furniture range, The Snelling Line.His first models were armless dining chairs, made from scraps of wood (materials were still extremely difficult to obtain in the late 1940s) with the backs and seats formed by cross–weaving lengths of army surplus parachute webbing. A series of the chairs, made by carpenter Ted Sandy, were installed in Snelling’s second commercial interior, a 1946 fitout for the Etam Glove Shop at 156 Pitt Street, Sydney. Nancy Springhall said the shape of the chairs’ distinctive side frames was ergonomically developed by her husband ‘getting me to lie on my side on a large piece of paper so he could draw around the back of me’. Despite that technique, Snelling’s styling closely resembled one of Danish designer Jens Risom’s ‘600 series’ webbing chairs with splayed timber legs, released in 1941 by innovative New York furniture producer HG Knoll Associates. The idea of using webbing instead of upholstery had been demonstrated first by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto and Swedish designer Bruno Mathsson in the early 1930s, but their designs were much more sophisticated in the technology of bending laminated wood to form graceful curves. It was not possible, in the climate of austerity immediately after the war, to emulate their elegance. Manufacturers were frustrated by a severe under–supply of suitable machinery, construction materials and skilled labour. In 1947, Snelling’s career shifted from commercial art to commercial interior design. His Etam glove shop, with its undulating and floating wall of waxed silver ash battens—reflected in a space– doubling mirrored side wall—rapidly led to commissions for the Dasi Pen Shop at 135 Pitt Street, the Sydney Snow fashion salon on the corner of Pitt and Liverpool Streets, and the Men’s and Mixed Bars at the American National Club, 129 Macquarie Street. All of these locations were equipped with Snelling’s new webbed chairs. Although he had not been to the United States since 1938, his designs for Sydney shops were up–to–date with post–war American already had opened a club there in March 1943, but 13 months later, fire damaged the roof and part of the top floor. Working with the Navy’s Chief Carpenter, his mate and 20 men, Snelling stripped Maramanah’s Victorian interior ornamentation and personally painted the walls of five rooms with murals. These depicted scenes from American folklore and notable wartime political figures, including Stalin, Chiang Kai Shek, Admiral Halsey and General Eisenhower. Working around his Kriesler hours, the project took him eight months to complete. When the centre reopened in January 1945, several press articles highlighted his achievement. He obtained further publicity when his practical yet stylish designs for built–in storage and hi–fi cabinets were published in the March–April and May 1945 editions of a design periodical called Cavalcade—a short–lived brochure publishing new ideas for domestic living after peace was declared. As Douglas and Nancy’s romance progressed, they agreed that she would divorce her absent husband, who she considered ‘incompatible’, so they could marry after the War ended. However, when Nancy announced this strategy to her separated mother and father, ‘all hell broke loose.’ From Wellington, her father threatened to cut off her inheritance. He died before the end of the War, allowing Nancy and Douglas to marry at Rose Bay Presbyterian Church in late 1945. The newlyweds honeymooned in New Zealand. Nancy said she needed to clear up issues with Wellington lawyers and accountants handling her father’s estate. And Douglas wanted to introduce her to his parents, now living in Nelson, on the north coast of the South Island. But the visit did not go well for his bride. From an interview with Nancy in November 2003: They were a funny little English seaside couple and his father was very delicate with heart or bronchial trouble. They moved into the spare room to give us a double bed. The conditions were very basic—all I wanted was a hot shower but his mother told me I needed to put the kettle on to heat up some bathing water. Back in Sydney, and lubricated by Nancy’s inheritance and divorce settlement, the Snellings enjoyed socialising—‘life was never dull with Douglas.’ She also recalls that her companion’s handsome and stylish appearance often caused heads to swivel when they arrived at restaurants or functions. ‘We used to go down to the American Club for dinner and we’d walk into the 6th floor bar and all the women would look at him. But in the beginning, I don’t think he was fully aware of how strongly his appearance impacted on people.’ DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 40 41 1940–1955 1940–1955