It is always sad when a great designer dies and furniture designer Robin Day, who died last week, is no exception. He may have been 95 years old, but he remained active more or less to the end, personifying the spirit that keeps creative people forever young. The tributes we published last Thursday on our website say it all.
It seems only yesterday that Day was confiding that he had dropped his daily walks down to ten miles a session – though to be fair he was only in his mid 80s then – and his passion for design never faded. Coupled with the death of his wife, seminal textile designer Lucienne, earlier this year, his passing prompts reflection on just how important that generation was in shaping design as we know it, experiementing with foms and materials and challenging the overly decorative norm that had largely gone before.
The Days continued to be exemplary and to inspire designers of all ages. Familiar figures on the circuit, they always had something to say, something witty and generous, and were great company.
Their legacy is legendary. He, for example, worked with plywood and in the early days of polypropylene to create icons such as the popular Hille stacking chair and the armchair for London’s Royal Festival Hall when it was launched at the 1951 Festival of Britain, while she ranked the Calyx print among her classic textiles.
Nor were they precious about their designs. Robin Day, for example, was consulted the reworking of the Festival of Britain chair for the Royal Festival Hall’s refurbishment completed in 2007 to accommodate the bigger bottoms we have in the 21st century.
A glass or two will no doubt be raised to him and Lucienne on Thursday evening, when the Royal Designers – a title held by both Days -convene for their annual dinner. More of that next week.
But what shall we take forward from their lives/? Creativity, for sure, but also tenacity, a hunger for experimentation and a huge dose of fun. What better way to honour them.