Born to a bootmaker, Douglas Snelling already had a design business at 16 and was employing other boys. He had a passion for Hollywood films and his dream was fulfilled when he travelled to Los Angeles to work as a freelancer for film studios, doing sketches of stars onset. He became a popular writer and cartoonist in New Zealand. In 1940, Snelling moved to Sydney where he would spend most of his life. He began designing some of Sydney’s shop fit-outs after World War II. He then developed a range of furniture, which was considered the first modernist chairs designed by an Australian. Thus, the “Snelling Line” was born.
Fritz Karl Heinz Lowenstein was born in Upper Silesia, Germany. After making it to England to escape from Nazis, he arrived in Australia aboard the Dunera. He began selling wooden dinnerware despite having very little knowledge of wood. He met Ernest Rodeck, who was making pencil propellers at that time. It was this fateful moment that they struck a partnership and opened their own small workshop. Fred Ward, a designer of Myer Emporium, convinced Lowen to make chairs after noticing his craftsmanship. Fred Lowen then refined his skill. He won several awards like the Dunhill Design Award in 1970. Today, his designs have reclaimed the spotlight alongside those of notable designers like Boyd, Featherston and Parker.
Fred Lowen and Ernest Rodeck never imagined they would become founders of one of the most sought-after brands for modern furniture when they first came to Australia. Being Jewish, they escaped from Nazi Europe and arrived on the prison ship Dunera. The name Fler is a combination of the initials of their names. Fler furniture leaned towards the modern styles and gradually took the limelight from the cumbersome and dark English style furniture. The growing interest in mid-century furniture has allowed Fler furniture back into the spotlight. Up to this day, their pieces are being sought out by antique sellers and restorers.
In 1856, another talented daughter was born to Benjamin Iram and Hannah Barlow. Florence Barlow would follow her sister’s steps and become one of the most successful artists working at Royal Doulton. When she and her sister, Hannah, joined Royal Doulton together, they decided that Hannah would concentrate on animal motifs and Florence would specialise in flowers and birds. Unlike her sister, Florence used a technique which involved building up layer after layer of translucent slip to create a pattern that stood up in relief from the surface, also known as pâte-sur-pâte. Anyone who owns one of her pieces is very lucky to have a beautiful piece of pottery indeed.
In 1851, a little girl was born to a very talented family. Her name is Hannah Bolton Barlow. She studied under John Sparks, who was a close friend of Henry Doulton. Hannah became the first woman artist to be employed by Doulton potteries. Her love for animals and her knowledge about them is a strong feature of her work. Despite losing the use of her right hand, she learnt to become equally proficient in the use of her left hand. She could even produce up to 20 high-quality pots in a day. Today, her work is in demand due to the unique style and quality of her work.
A partnership between Alf Dagger and Jack Parker is what started Parker Furniture. However, it was Jack’s eldest son, Tony Parker, who turned the company into an icon. While working for his father during the day, Tony took night courses for industrial design. He drew plans for homes and interiors. He honed his skills in managing a team and measuring the success of a design during his stay in London. With Tony at the helm, Parker Furniture incorporated the innovations and iconic designs of the times, but the company still made certain that their products maintained the same quality and attention to detail their brand was known for.