Sunday, 7 February 2010

i love lucienne day

It was a sad moment when I heard the news of Lucienne Day's passing last week, so I felt I must write a little about why she was such an creative inspiration to me. I had the great priviledge of hearing her talk about her career a few years ago, while I was studying textiles at the Royal College of Art. She must have been the grand age of 86, but stood for a couple of hours talking eloquently about her fascinating work, her life and her husband and also held a questions and answers session, throughout which the passion she held for design and textiles was still very much in evidence.

Although she is extremely well known for her fifties and sixties prints, such as the infamous Calyx (top), which hung at the Festival of Britain in 1951, she talked most about the tapestries which held her interest for most of the latter part of her life, and were very beautiful. She was an inspiration of a designer, working with a great creative drive, right into her final years, yet also with a solid home life as a mother to her daughter and wife and occasional collaborator to her husband of over sixty years, Robin Day.
Robin is a furniture deisgner and for those of you who do not know, he designed the ubiquitous polypropylene chairs we all grew up with, sitting on at school, in church halls and pretty much everywhere mass seating was needed. The couple rarely collaborated on the same projects, but their pieces worked harmoniously together, as with Calyx, which hung in Robin's display at the Festival of Britain, and in this great photo from the Design Museum of their house. I would move in tomorrow - what a stylish and classic yet cosy pad!

The pair met at an RCA dance in the forties, which is a lovely reflection of how I met my own partner. Although I am also a textiles designer and a RCA graduate, I can only hope to achieve her success and level of creativity and prolific output. Her designs were truly groundbreaking at the time and even now, although they are very familiar and well worn, they do not look dated, with similar designs continuing to be replicated in contemporary interiors. In fact, her designs are still being produced by companies such as Heals, with whom she worked for long periods.
One of the aspects of her own and Robin's ethos which I most identify with, similar to William Morris' Arts and Craft Movement, which she also admired, is the idea of great design for the masses at affordable prices. Usually this is a contradiction which connot be reconciled, but the Days managed it with style.

A sad truth is that most ideas and avenues in textiles have been explored today, so it is unlikely that we shall ever see such a startlingly new and groundbreaking textiles designer again, so Lucienne will be sadly missed. However, her designs, I believe will be relevant for many, many years to come.

No comments: