Lucienne Day: fabric designs still in vogue!
Finding the right textiles and patterns to suit the desires and requirements of the client can be quite a challenge. It is little known outside the profession, that many of the furniture and fabric designs found in modern society today are the work of Lucienne Day and her husband Robin.
Lucienne Day is widely known and revered in the interior design world for her work in textile, ceramic and furniture design. She is often described as a revolutionary figure in post-war interior design. She initially studied at the Croydon School of Art from the age of 17, before attending the Royal College of Art from 1937 to 1940. She specialised in printed fabrics which would have strong significance through her career – little did she know it at the time! However, her career, like many others, was halted by the Second World War, during which she taught at the Beckenham School of Art.
After the war she was free to pursue her dream of becoming a designer and was soon gaining a reputation for her work. Initially, she worked on designs for fabrics and wallpapers, for which she had many commissions through the 1950’s, including for astute companies such as Marks & Spencer and Stevenson & Son. She went on to specialise in furniture fabrics in the 1970s-80s.
In 1951 Day’s work was showcased at the Festival of Britain; Robin had designed the furniture for a dining room set at the Royal Festival Hall which included Lucienne’s textiles and wallpaper designs. Calyx (pictured in different colourways) was originally designed for this purpose and, although Heals were slow to warm to it at first, it went on to prove its success in a vast number of sales in the years to follow.
Many of her designs include shapes and colours widely recognised in the British countryside. However, it was the abstract styles and themes which caught the attention of post-war Britain. Her designs were far from the norm at the time; utilising bold colours and shapes in irregular patterns, she soon became known for her new ‘contemporary’ design style.
Lucienne made a significant breakthrough for women in the design industry when she was recognised for her work by becoming the first female Master (after being only the fifth female member!) of the Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry in 1987 until 1989.
It is difficult to know if Lucienne would have been so driven and successful had her husband not also had such a passion for furniture design. They had met whilst studying at the Royal College of Art and remained together until their final year of life, 2010. Robin was well respected as a furniture designer in his own right and, amongst many others, one of his most successful designs was the stacking Hille chair which is still commonplace today!
As a tribute to their memory and life’s work, the couple’s daughter, Paula Day, set up the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation in 2012. It is formally registered as and Arts and Education charity and, as well as managing the designs produced by the Day’s, the charity aims to educate and inspire on the works of contemporary designers through events and exhibitions: www.robinandluciennedayfoundation.org/foundation.
There is an exhibition on Lucienne Day at Arts University Bournemouth running until 22 March; it is worth a visit if you are in the area!
Above: Dandelion Clocks; Magnetic; Flotilla
Interior Design Exchange has several interesting fabrics (sadly, not by Lucienne Day) for sale on the website. Examples below. More can be found here: http://interiordesignexchange.com/product_list.php?category=8