From a personal perspective I can’t think of anything more heartwarming than coming across the entire life’s work of a creative couple. British designers Robin and Lucienne Day are a prime example of two different styles intertwining and complimenting one another, for those that haven’t been inspired by these two already they worked away in the post-war period as furniture and textile designers respectively. I’ve really enjoyed learning more about them today and I’m sure like myself many of you will already be drawing parallels with Ray and Charles Eames, the other iconic designer duo of this period. The Day’s however, unlike their American contemporaries, always worked independently on their own projects. It’s only when their works are placed next to one another that they create this beautiful narrative of form meeting function that I couldn’t help adding to our growing archive here today.
On the face of things you could say their stances were quite contrasting, Lucinenne was an expressive creator inspired by the art of Kandinsky and Paul Klee, aiming to create textiles from the perspective of a painter of fine art. Where as Robin always strived for a clean line, practice and purpose, he didn’t believe in art for art’s sake and was constantly striving to find the balance of practical possibilities in his furniture. This pragmatic approach didn’t disregard the poetry of each object he did make, it just wasn’t the focus when he started out on each project. Aside from the visuals it was the ideals that drew these two together, with both having strong beliefs that the world could be made a better place through the perspective of good design. They believed that if they could create items that were affordable to all and well made everyone could experience a better quality of life. With the atrocities and depression the war had brought there was a great sense of needing to progress and be positive about the world, the Day’s designs embodied this and proved immensely popular. They’ve been described by many as the one of the most significant studio’s of the time that helped to lighten and brighten Britain in the post-war era. However I think they’ve created a body of work that outlasts these testing times and is still relevant today, their work signified a new beginning in the 50’s and 60’s but still holds it’s own fifty years later.
Robin’s 675 chair seen in the second and twelfth images below is a great example of this, especially when you consider we live in a time when everyday objects are often over designed and reduced in quality, this piece still holds the integrity that the designer gave it in 1952. One quote from Robin actually comes to mind here when he questions “why should their always be new things, peoples bodies don’t change and the requirements for a chair supporting the human frame, I think their should be better things”. Which I believe rings true with the 675, the object is a marvellous piece of minimal design and is still in production, still doing a better job that most of it’s contemporaries in my humble opinion.
In fact Lucinenne’s works are still widely available as well and I’m sure massively sought after, not only do they hold that great mid-century style but they’ve got subtle undertones of plants and a sense of growth flowing throughout which will always be relevant. As an individual she was looked up to greatly by her fellow woman as she worked unlike the majority that stayed at home and tended to the home. Her imaginative works were a big inspiration and I’m sure the origin for many a creative across countless fields. Together Robin and Lucinenne were big innovators of their time and a couple who’s talents shouldn’t be forgotten. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little introduction and you’re eager to go and learn a little more about who they were and what they did. If you haven’t come across the short film on the couple by “design on screen” I can really recommend heading across to view this now. Enjoy!