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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

Promoting the future of Douglas

Posted by Davina Jackson 12 February 2013


Douglas Snelling died with little fanfare in 1985. But his current supporters in Sydney want to see his achievements and 30th anniversary celebrated at California's Palm Springs Modernism Festival in 2015.

Potentials for a travelling exhibition to show Snelling's oeuvre to 21st century fans of modernism are being discussed among a small group of architects, historians and curators in Sydney, Wellington and Los Angeles.

The exhibition would mainly rely on photographs taken of Snelling's most ..... Read More