Rocking chair by Douglas Snelling

Made by Functional Products Pty Ltd in St Peters, New South Wales, Australia, 1953-1959.

This rocking chair made of Australian hardwood was designed by the Australian designer, Douglas B. Snelling, and made in Sydney by Functional Products Pty Ltd between 1946 and 1960. The chair’s seating material is made of canvas webbing similar to that used in parachutes during World War II. The Snelling Line was a range of inexpensive, modern furniture popular in Australia during the 1950s. Its informal look suited the uncluttered, more relaxed post-war interior.


Object No.


Physical Description

Rocking chair, fabric / wood, designed by Douglas B. Snelling Associates, made by Functional Products Pty Ltd, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1946-1955

Rocking chair with padded upholstered back and seat, clear finish coachwood timber frame, cantilever arms


Stamp inside seat rail, '474 / 16 Jun 1955'



730 mm


515 mm


755 mm



Designed by Sydney architect Douglas Snelling (1916-1985) and made by Functional Products Pty Ltd, St Peters, Sydney.

The 'Snelling Line' was Australia's first popular, mass produced range of furniture sold widely through the major department stores from the late 1940s to the mid 1950s. The range included dining tables, cabinets and 'parachute' webbing chairs which became the signature product. In 1953, in response to demand, Snelling designed a range of upholstered armchairs based on his well known parachute webbing chairs.

The 'Snelling Line' was advertised as 'Contemporary Furniture designed by Douglas B Snelling from his experiences in Southern California'. Snelling worked as a designer in America during the war and had seen the latest in American design. His furniture was strongly influenced by the Scandinavian style of Aalto and Mathsson. The post war years saw a change in housing style in Australia to open plan living areas and lower ceilings. Traditional dark wood and heavily upholstered furniture did not suit these spaces and the clean lines, light weight and uncluttered look of the 'Snelling Line' was particularly suited to the new 'modern' home, where it found a ready market.

Douglas Snelling formally qualified as an architect in 1950 and in a few years he ceased working for Functional Products to concentrate on his busy architectural practice. The 'Snelling Line' gradually declined in sales especially as oiled teak furniture came into vogue in the late 1950s.

Functional Products Pty Ltd was formed in 1947 and was managed and majority-owned by Terry Palmerston. The other owners were Douglas Snelling, Douglas Davidson and Robert Shaw. Snelling designed the Functional Products factory that was built in St Peters, Sydney, in 1947. Snelling, Davidson and Shaw left F.P in the mid-1950s when it became a public company. Palmerston eventually sold the business in 1986.

A chair similar in style to the Snelling rocking chair was designed by Ralph Rapson and produced by H G Knoll and Associates, New York - see the The Architectural Forum, January 1946, p.160.


Functional Products Pty Ltd 1953-1959


Snelling, Douglas 1953



Part of a group of Snelling furniture donated by siblings Felicity and Peter Dodd which was bought/owned by their parents, Mrs and Mr Margaret and Bill Dodd.

Felicity Dodd worked for Functional Products during the 1950s.


Credit Line

Gift of Felicity and Peter Dodd, 1985

Acquisition Date

20 June 1985

Cite this Object


Rocking chair by Douglas Snelling 2018, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 21 October 2018, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Rocking chair by Douglas Snelling |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=21 October 2018 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.

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