Robin Day 1915 - 2010

Robin Day and his wife Lucienne taught at the Beckenham School of Art throughout WWII, and left a lasting impression. In fact, in the official history of the BSoA written in 1962, Principal John Cole wrote that when Robin and Lucienne left in 1945 to pursue full time professional work, they had made an enormous contribution to the work of the BSoA during the war period, assisting in maintaining and adding to the reputation it had always had in professional circles. Robin Day was most famous for his furniture designs and particularly the Hillestak lightweight timber chair and the Hille polypropylene staking chair of which nearly fifty-million were sold.

Robin Day won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in the late 1930s and became interested in the European and American avant grade which led to his groundbreaking new visions of interior design that featured so favourably during the 1951 Festival of Britain.

He and Lucienne were much responsible for bringing back colour and textures along with new shapes to the drab grey years of post WWII Britain. More over, it was their innovative approach to the ‘modern’ that British design began to be taken seriously internationally. This was most evident in the changing configurations of the living room where they introduced radical looking seating, curtains, floor covering, room dividers, shelving and even walls of differing colours. Their approach to our visual environment with its disregard for well entrenched formulations of what things should look like was surely the genesis of the 1960s blossoming of a new relationship with exotic colours and designs that became the pop and opt art movement, as well as psychodelic patterns that found their way onto clothing, drapes, upholstery, and even car paint work; the echos of which are still with us today.

Robin Day resisted being typecast as a furniture designer as he was hugely impressed by the scope of design in Scandinavia and the Eames Office in California. It was part of his emerging philosophy that the designer should influence all details of daily life, and he worked in graphics, exhibitions and interiors as well as designing products. His students carried this further with results that also won international prizes.

An exhibition of Lucienne and Robin’s 67 year design collaboration was held at the Pallant House Gallery in Winchester in March 2011. For more information about this exhibition click on linktext

Hillestak Chair 1950. Room Setting 1951. Polypropylene Chairs 1963