Born and raised in Coral Gables, Florida, Dougan Clarke’s upbringing by the ocean has informed his approach to design. “Nature,” says Clarke, “in all its wondrous forms and raw beauty, has inspired me through the years and brought me endless joy.” Self-taught, Clarke spent 10 years in the marine manufacturing industry, where he gained an expert’s understanding of the materials and engineering needed to withstand the corrosive effects of the sea, salt and sun. He combined that with his experience in leisure furnishings to launch Tuuci (“The Ultimate Umbrella Company, Inc.”) in 1998.
Clarke says that the goal of Tuuci is to “complement the comfort and accessibility of natural environments through shade architecture.” His aim was nothing less than to “redefine what was previously known as an ‘umbrella.” The results, like the Tuuci Razor, Manta and Hexagon, are shade structures that use marine-grade hardware but that embody both form and function - creating what he refers to as “shade sculptures.” Also an avid musician, Clarke draws so much inspiration from playing music that he installed a dedicated recording and rehearsal studio in the Tuuci factory. But it is still the ocean that is his primary passion. Even the process of naming his innovative outdoor inventions is an act of respect to the sea: “It is a pleasurable part of our creative process and usually involves a boat, a warm sunny day on the water and enjoyable company.”