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Robin Day

Robin Day

  • Dates 1915-2010
  • Nationality British

After World War II, Day turned his hand to exhibition and poster design. In 1948 he and Clive Latimer won first prize in the storage section of the International Competition for Low-Cost Furniture organised by MoMA. The cabinets in their flexible, multi-functional storage system were fabricated from a tube of moulded plywood cut into sections--a radical innovation for the time.

Day's success brought him to the attention of a British manufacturer, Hille, which had specialised in period furniture, but was eager to modernise. Seizing this opportunity, he designed a series of simple, functional chairs, tables, desks and storage units that harnessed the latest wood and metalworking techniques. Many of his designs were low-cost, such as the beech-framed 1950 Hillestak chair with its moulded plywood seat. Whereas pre-war furniture was solid and bulky, Day's designs were pared down and seemed to float above the ground. "What one needs in today's small rooms is to see over and under one's furniture," he told a journalist in 1955.

Day's inventive response to technology reflected the positive, forward-looking mood of the early post-war era, with his sparing use of materials and economical approach to construction. From the outset Robin Day was a deeply moral and highly principled designer, who was not interested in making a design statement, but in solving practical problems in the most rigorous, efficient and cost-effective way. "A good design must fulfil its purpose well, be soundly constructed, and should express in its design this purpose and construction," he stated in 1962.

The commission to design furniture for the Royal Festival Hall marked a turning point in Day's career. The project included restaurant and foyer furniture, auditorium seating and orchestra chairs, each with specific functional demands. His talents were also evident in the two room settings he designed for the House and Gardens Pavilion at the Festival: one low-cost, one high-cost, both equipped with his latest storage furniture and chairs.

Royal Design industry award in 1959 for Furniture and exhibitions

Products by Robin Day

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