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Design Heroes: Robin Day (1915 – 2010)

author philippa

Robin Day polypropylene chair

We were saddened this week to learn that one of our all-time design heroes, Robin Day, passed away earlier this month. Maybe he couldn’t live without his recently departed – and every bit as exceptional – wife, Lucienne (we’ll dedicate a separate story to her textile design later). Even though most of our design work is primarily graphics based, we pull our influences from all spheres of art and design. We’re big fans of Days mid-century furniture design.

It’s a mark of a truly great designer when their work has mass acceptance and achieves longevity. Designed in 1962, an astonishing 50 million units have been produced of Days polypropylene (then a new material) chair. Stackable, modern and cheap, the chair was snapped up by schools, restaurants and airports. His designs still look as fresh and contemporary today, as they must have looked revolutionary then.

Days sparing use of materials was reflective of an economical Post-war Britain. His furniture design often relied on using as few components as possible. This approach put him years ahead of our seemingly recent ethical focus on minimising waste and excess materials.

More recently a new generation was introduced to Day’s furniture design when British interiors chain Habitat reissued some of his designs.

We love his modernist aesthetic. He has (pardon the pun) taken his seat alongside Jacobsen, Eames and Bertoia as a true icon of furniture design. From inside the classroom through to British landmarks – including the wonderful Barbican Centre in London – his design lives on with us everyday.

Robin & Lucienne Day

Robin Day stackable polypropylene chair

Habitat chair

(Images sourced from The Design Museum and Habitat)

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