I have to admit to being one of those people who has a morbid fascination with going through those end-of-year obituaries to find out exactly who’s pegged out over the past 12 months, and was amazed to see that both Robin and Lucienne Day had left us in 2010, both having made it well into their ’90s. I don’t know quite how this passed me by.
You’ll probably be aware that the Days were the UK’s most glamorous design couple who achieved celebrity status in post-war Britain and even featured in an early Smirnoff ad together – yes, that were that cool. Robin was famous for designing furniture (you can thank him for the seating in the Royal Festival Hall, and most famously for the plastic, stacking chair), and the French-looking, elfin Lucienne for her fabrics and wallpapers.
They generally worked independently of each other, although it was Lucienne’s Calyx print fabric (below), designed to adorn one of Robin’s show rooms at the Festival of Britain, which won her a gold medal at the Milan Triennale and the international design award of the American Institute of Decorators. So sure were Heals that it would be a flop, however, they would only pay her half of what she asked (£20) which can, I think, give us all hope…
I love Calyx and decided to have a stab at reinterpreting it at the end of last year and ended up with something almost a bit Mexican (I keep seeing sombreros.. click for a larger view); it’s still very much a work in progress but it’s something I want to go back and have a look at once I’ve got Top Drawer out of the way.
Similarly, I took the main characteristics from another one of her prints, Springboard (fine, taut lines and blocks of colour) and had a quick play with applying the same principles to a Christmas design (they’re meant to be crackers, by the way, incase it isn’t immediately obvious… ahem..) It didn’t work, exactly, but it was fun trying!
Again, I’m definitely going to have another go at this when time allows.
Here are a few more images courtesy of the V&A which might give you similar inspiration, but with (hopefully) rather more successful results.
And here are some designs which more than tip their hat to Day’s ‘interpretation of the geometry of nature’, and who can blame them? They’re all flippin’ marvelous.
And if you’re not feeling creatively revved up after that little lot, then frankly, you may be dead.
Coming up next: Top Drawer preview…