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 105encountered barriers from architecture’s insular, conservative and hierarchical professional culture, and was frustrated by a law which required architects to be registered after passing tests of their competency. Without registration, he could not be a member of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects and could not advertise as an architect. To gain registration, he would either have to attend a technical college or university course, or study privately to pass the NSW Board of Architects’ examinations on design, theory, history, construction and practice subjects. With typical determination to usurp his social limitations, Snelling recruited young architects, employees and students to help him learn. Nancy recalls many of them coming to dinner to guide Douglas. He would sometimes complain if their hospitality proved so generous that his tutors dozed off before Snelling felt he had been taught enough. She recalls that he had particular difficulty with structural and history subjects. Another reason why Snelling felt it necessary to gain architectural qualifications might have been the arrival in Sydney in 1948 of Austrian architect Harry Seidler—also fresh from the United States after the war. He was seven years younger than Snelling’s 34 years, but had a degree from Harvard and credentials working with US– resident Bauhaus gurus Marcel Breuer and Walter Gropius and talented South American expressionist Oscar Niemeyer. Seidler had been convinced by his mother, Rose Seidler, to come to Australia to set up a practice, with her own house at Wahroonga to be his first project. When Seidler arrived in Sydney, only two local architects were designing modernist buildings: Sydney Ancher and Arthur Baldwinson. Of an older generation, they had worked in London and travelled in Europe before the war. Recognising his credentials, they gave Seidler help ito set up his practice. As Seidler later noted,Snelling also was a Sydney modernist of note to him when he arrived. Yet at this stage, Snelling had no formal qualifications and had not yet designed a building—although he had plenty of experience with commercial interiors. However, by 1949, when Snelling began studying architecture for registration, he already had a large number of commissions for new houses and interiors. That year’s designs were the California Chocolate Shop at 49a Castlereagh Street, a substantial new residence at Harbour Heights for Point Piper car importer WR (Russell) uninhabited’. But Snelling was aroused enough by his discovery of this architectural Holy Grail to write a passionate article about his visit, published back home in Decoration and Glass, July–August 1949. Although this memoir offered an opportunity to substantiate his later claims to have met Wright in Los Angeles, he did not mention meeting Wright. With prospects of a job in American architecture dimmed by the Honnold dismissal, and with Nancy unhappy about her social limitations in Los Angeles, Snelling agreed that the couple should return to Sydney, where he could capitalise on his commercial success as an interior and furniture designer. On return in late 1948, Snelling and Nancy rented a tiny, one– bedroom apartment at 12a Marlborough Hall, 4 Ward Avenue, Kings Cross. A seven–storey, Art Deco building of red brick with a terracotta roof, it was part of a cluster of 1930s apartment buildings in the Elizabeth Bay and Potts Point neighbourhoods, designed by architect Emil Sodersten. Most of these prestige buildings were developed by the Gales, an eastern suburbs family which held extensive rural pastures as well as prime urban sites. Initially, he continued to design new styles of chairs, tables and desks for Functional Products. All were inspired by American designs; including Ralph Rapson’s armchair and rocking chair from Knoll’s ‘The Rapson Line’—a trade name the local company already had adapted for ‘The Snelling Line’. But factory director Terry Palmerston was having serious trouble obtaining materials, so the range was not widely advertised around Australia until 1949. From then until 1955, it was constantly advertised in newspapers and national homemaker magazines—along with a companion range of storage units developed in 1950, called ‘the Snelling Module.’ He also designed more commercial interiors in the outré Googie style. In 1946, Sydney Snow Pty Ltd commissioned him to create a children’s shoe department at its Pitt Street store. Then he produced a showroom for watchmakers and jewellers J. Farren Price, on the fourth floor of the St James Building at 109 Elizabeth Street, and a reception area for the Vacuum Oil Company at the Kembla Building, 58 Margaret Street. All of these fitouts incorporated Snelling chairs. All demonstrated his exceptional creativity with colour and inventiveness with materials. By 1948, Snelling had decided to abandon commercial art, continue earning income from commercial interiors and furniture, and create an architectural practice, beginning with houses. However, he soon DOUGLAS SNELLING DOUGLAS SNELLING 46 47 1940–1955 1940–1955