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Robin Day

Robin Day OBE (1915 - 2010) and his wife Lucienne Day, furniture and print designers, are amongst the most acclaimed and influential British designers from the post-war era, often put on a par with their American contemporaries, Charles and Ray Eames.

Robin Day was born in High Wycombe in 1915, the son of a police constable. He trained as an industrial and furniture designer at the Royal College of Art in London, where he met Lucienne.

Robin Day rose to fame at the Festival of Britain in 1951. He was awarded the Chartered Society of Designers’ Minerva Medal for lifetime achievement in the field of design in 1957 and again (with Lucienne Day) in 1998.

Robin Day believed in the power of modern furniture and design to uplift and make the world a better place, and right from the start of his career, he dedicated himself to the design of low-cost, ‘high tech’, mass-produced furniture.

Whereas pre-war furniture was solid and ponderous, Robin’s designs were trimmed down as with his 1952 Reclining chair. “What one needs in today’s small rooms is to see over and under one’s furniture,” he told a journalist in 1955.

With the 1963 Polypropylene chair for the manufacturer Hille, a worldwide hit, he achieved his ultimate goal. Light, strong, flexible, scratch-proof, heat-resistant and hard-wearing, produced in the millions, it has spawned innumerable copies. 

Durability and comfort were always key features of Robin Day’s designs, hence his interest in public seating. His designs remain in use, in prestigious and demanding locations such as the Gatwick Bench in the Tate Britain, 1952 auditorium seating at the Royal Festival Hall, 1981 auditorium seating for the Barbican Art Centre in London and 1990s Toro and Woodro seating on London Underground.

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