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Snelling’s key contemporaries

Posted by Davina Jackson 6 March 2013


Bringing Douglas Snelling back from obscurity will take time. He has been systematically erased from recognition by his younger rivals – and their apprentices and acolytes control the education of architecture and design students in Australia and New Zealand.
It is natural – but not correct – that today's fans of architecture believe Douglas Snelling was insignificant – because they only know of him as a designer of some interesting timber furniture from the austerity period of the late ..... Read More

Mid-fifties ‘House of the Year’ demolished

Posted by Davina Jackson 2 March 2013


Sydney's largest private residence of the 1950s – the Bellevue Hill  mansion designed by Douglas Snelling for Woolworths chairman Sir Theo Kelly, his wife Nancy, and their family – has been demolished.

Completed in 1955, it won a 1956 'House of the Year' Award from Architecture and Arts magazine — edited by Melbourne architect Kenneth McConnell – and its interiors were extensively featured in the June 1956 issue of The Australian Womens Weekly.

Along with three other significant ..... Read More

Rescuing Douglas from a dumping

Posted by Davina Jackson 2 March 2013


Given that he was one of Australia and New Zealand's most accomplished self-publicists of his time, why was Douglas Snelling repeatedly ignored – or ignorantly dismissed – by later generations of architecture and design historians?
Here are three explanations, proposed by Snelling's biographer, Davina Jackson.
1. Architecture and design are industries and disciplines which operate highly competitively, via orchestrated concoctions of aesthetics, comment and commerce. Audiences are stimulated ..... Read More

Kitsch or cool? Snelling’s tiki tastes

Posted by Davina Jackson 13 February 2013


Douglas Snelling was the South Pacific architect and designer who contributed most enthusiastically to the mid 20th century cultural movement known as 'Polynesian Pop' and 'the Tiki Style'.

Just as modernists in Germany and France collected traditional native arts and crafts from Africa, collectors in Australia acquired tribal rugs, totems and other artefacts from north Australia's Aboriginal communities, the Middle East and Asia, and New Zealand dilettantes gathered hand-made wooden and stone ..... Read More

Drake and Douglas: passing the baton from LA to Sydney

Posted by Davina Jackson 13 February 2013


Historians love to stumble on vital cultural exchanges that went under the radar – or were only vaguely noticed – by earlier researchers.

Here's an exciting new example: the handover of cutting-edge California modern architecture concepts from brilliant young Los Angeles architect Gordon Converse Drake to talented Sydney designer Douglas Burrage Snelling between 1947 and 1952.

Drake died (age 34) in a skiing accident in 1952 – the same year that Snelling (then 35) was registered in ..... Read More

California Dreamers: A special breed of Pacific modernists

Posted by Davina Jackson 12 February 2013


MIT architecture historian Mark Jarzombeck coined the term 'good life modernism' to describe residential architecture and design trends in California and other sunny American States during the 1950s.

Los Angeles and Palm Springs were the global epicentres of hedonistic lifestyles during the decades when the rest of the world was dealing with the Great Depression (1930s) and the Second World War (through to 1945). These two sprawling cities thrived, and provided well-paid employment to people ..... Read More