26 March-26 June 2011
Pallant House Gallery is delighted to present an exhibition of the British designer couple Robin (1915-2010) and Lucienne Day(1917-2010) , in the Day’s former home town of Chichester, West Sussex. Drawn from the American textile collection of H Kirk Brown III and Jill A Wiltse in Denver, Colorado and the furniture collection of Target Gallery, London, it features over 50 Lucienne textiles ranging in date from 1951 to 1974, alongside rare, early furniture by Robin including key pieces such as the Royal Festival Hall lounge, dining and orchestra chairs.
The most celebrated designer couple of the post war years, the Days rose to prominence during the 1951 Festival of Britain. Robin Day was commissioned to design the furniture for the Royal Festival Hall (examples of the dining chair, lounge chair and orchestra chairs will be in the exhibition) and Lucienne's arresting abstract-patterned textiles and wallpapers were displayed alongside Robin's steel and plywood furniture in the Homes and Gardens Pavilion. Fittingly this exhibition will coincide with the 60th anniversary year of the 1951 Festival of Britain which falls in 2011.
Like many architects and designers during the optimistic post-war period, the Days believed in the power of modern design to make the world a better place. Lucienne Day's fresh and progressive textile designs were revolutionary, epitomised by her most famous 1951 Calyx design which was showcased at the 1951 Festival of Britain (and is featured in the show). Inspired by plant forms, composed of spindly lines and irregular cupped motifs in earthy and acid tones, the abstract design was initially viewed with scepticism by her principal client, Heal Fabrics. However Calyx was so widely praised, nationally and internationally -even receiving the International Design award - that the company enthusiastically embraced the ‘Contemporary' style and championed Lucienne's work.
Robin Day's furniture designs were a direct rejection of the solid and ponderous form of pre-war furniture. His inventive response to technology reflected the positive, forward- looking mood of the early post-war era: and his sparing use of materials and economical approach to construction stemmed from the enforced austerity of the war years, when materials and labour were in short supply. These habits became deeply ingrained in his design psyche- eventually finding their logical conclusion in the multi-million selling 1963 polypropylene chair.