Saturday, 28 April 2018

Lucienne Day - Textile Designer

Lucienne Day was born in 1917 and became one of the most influential British textile designers of the 1950s and 60s. She drew inspiration from other arts and developed a new style of abstract pattern known as 'Contemporary' design. In the year of the millenium, at the grand age of 83 she offically retired.
Lucienne Day photographed with her new pioneering 'contemporary' fabric design, "Calyx", which was shown for the first time at the Festival of Britain in 1951.

She met and married Robin Day, an already up and coming successful furniture designer. They both studied at the Royal College of Art where they met at a college dance. They immediately recognised in each other a kindred spirit and became inseparable. They were married for almost 70 years, and both died within months of one other in 2010 - Robin was 95, Lucienne 93. Together they forged an influential design partnership which lasted for over six decades.
Black leaf - tea towel
Lucienne designed patterns for furnishings, dress fabrics, table linen, carpets, wallpapers and ceramics. 
 Her designs are still being produced today demonstrating the continuing vitality of her design legacy.
Lucienne's designs brought joy and colour into domestic homes following the austerity of the war years.

I can think of several current designers, printmakers, and illustrators who appear to have been inspired by Lucienne. Amusingly what I think of as contemporary, the younger generation consider 'vintage'. They have rediscovered her designs and appear to love them.
Jack Sprat - tea towel
In later life she began making individual silk mosaics. She is pictured here with her silk mosaic 'Three Daughters of Mexico' which she made for the Senior Common Room at the Royal College of Art, and where she celebrated her 90th birthday with many old friends from the design world. 

51 comments:

  1. The designs of the fifties and the sixties reminds me so much of my youth. I think I had a kind of simular curtains of that grey design with red and blue accents,. Must be an interesting exhibbition.

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    1. It is interesting the way that the style is seeing a new revival with our youngsters

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  2. Love the designs. It reminds me of a bolt of fabric I inherited from my mother in law. It looks very similar. I’m off to go and have a look. B x

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  3. I remember the sudden appearance of similar designs appearing in my childhood, though mostly on Formica table-tops and plastic-covered kitchen chairs - mainly because this was all my parents could afford in those days. As a result I've never had a very high opinion of such "contemporary" design and I'm mystified as to how it's suddenly become desirable. I have to try very hard to set aside this prejudice and see it in purely artistic terms.

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    1. John Lewis shops currently have several of her curtain material designs, cushions, and carpets too.

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  4. Love the design and all the colours! Lovely!
    Have a great weekend Rosemary...
    Titti

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  5. Hello Rosemary, In America the cutting edge designs of the period were much the same. Day's patterns seem to feature in addition a distinctive kind of child-like, almost crude quality to the drawing that probably relieved the formality of earlier years. I especially like the last photos which shows the large sections of her patterns hung together.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - Lucienne enjoyed gardening and loved wildflowers she incorporated images of dandelions, and seed pods etc into her designs.

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    2. Rosemary, I think you put your finger on a large part of her appeal. Many designs from that period featured futuristic "atomic" patterns, which are also cool, but Day's art additionally incorporated the natural world, especially what we might see on a pleasant walk in the fields. --Jim

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    3. Thanks Jim - I think that you can also see a nod of the head in the direction of painters such as Klee and Miro.

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  6. Vibrant colours. I was not familiar with her.

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    1. She brighted up British homes during a period of drabness following the war years.

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  7. Her patterns remind me of my childhood in the 60s, and of the more recent Scandinavian fabric designs, sometimes seen at Ikea. Clean lines, a playful aesthetic, and little fuss. I enjoyed reading about her design life and her personal life. What a great exhibition to visit.

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    1. I love the story of their marriage - two people that seemed destined for one another, and what a very long and productive life they lived.

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  8. Fascinating - I had not heard of her.

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    1. Robin and Lucienne's styles complimented each other perfectly.

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  9. My parents enthusiastically decorated a new home in textiles very similar to this in the 1950s, and it certainly reminds me of my childhood. I have not heard of Day, but her designs are really appealing, especially with the inclusion of botanical themes. The exhibition display looks beautifully curated.

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    1. It was not a terribly big exhibition. Cirencester is only a small town but still retains many of its Roman origins. The gallery has a lovely shop selling handmade craftwork, and a good coffe shop too.

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  10. Amazing that's she being rediscovered by the young people - they must have been an amazing couple.

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    1. Yes, contemporary to me, is now vintage to the youngsters.

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  11. I love her work but it's funny how tastes change. I used to absolutely loathe 1950s design when I was younger. I think I associated it with dingy out of date places, and of course it was very out of date by then. Now it's become vintage and historic. I never thought I was a slave of fashion but perhaps I have a tendency towards that after all...

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    1. They currently have lots of her different fabric designs in John Lewis Jenny.

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  12. Although I'm ashamed to say I've never heard of her I do recognise the design style instantly, especially in the first two photographs as quite a few modern films have used a similar design style for beginning and end film credits. A bit like Mary Berry (home baking) being rediscovered by a modern generation all over again as I remember watching her on TV in the 1970s and 1980s in Houseparty. One of my mum's favourites I have to add- not mine- but it always seemed to be on in the house so it was hard to avoid it :o) The Loose Women of that era.

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    1. I recall the title of that programme Houseparty, but I have no idea what it was all about. We didnt get a TV until the early 1980s so it is quite likely that I never saw it.

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  13. Amazing exhibition, so beautiful designs and colours.
    Have a great sunday
    Hugs
    Maria from
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed the seeing the designs and colours Maria - hope you are having a great Sunday too.

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  14. I do remember her designs. Very interesting.

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    1. Her designs are very distinctive, glad you found it interesting.

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  15. Dear Rosemary,
    I wouldn't choose these designs for myself but can appreciate their diversity and originality.

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    1. Dear Gina - I can tell from your photos that they would not suit your home, nor mine either for that matter. I love the story of their life together, a long and very fruitful partnership.

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    2. I think that her design is still very up to date and modern even so many years later .

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    3. Yes, it is surprising considering they are almost 70 years old.

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  16. Great to see designs that are as up-to-date today as the day they were produced

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    1. The revival amongst the young is interesting. I wonder just what Lucienne would think?

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  17. This certainly flashed me back to my teens when I babysat for a professor at Queens. He and his young wife had a very modern house, full of teak furniture and textiles that were similar to the ones you've shown. I remember thinking that THIS was sophistication!

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    1. You have put your fingers on it exactly - this was such a revelation at a time when most people had chintz curtains, flowery carpets, and heavy dark brown furniture.
      It was lovely to see your familiar gravatar pop up here today. Hope all is going well with you and your family.

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  18. Hello Rosemary

    A beautiful account of the life of the Days. They contributed much and what a great match they were.

    I love her work.

    Have a great week

    Helen xx

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Helen, and do hope all is well with you. Glad you enjoyed seeing Lucienne's work - I love that these two great designers met and married when they were young, and had a long and very fruitful life together.

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  19. A wonderful post her designs still have so much appeal even today. Sarah x

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    1. In the world today where the latest designs are available and known so quickly it is difficult to realise how revolutionary Lucienne and her husband were. It was a time of chintz, velvet curtains, dark furniture and flowery carpets.

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  20. A match meant to be. Their designs are striking and timeless. I like them but probably wouldn’t choose them for my home, maybe for quilting though.I like that they had such a long productive life together.

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    1. I like the story of their meeting at college which resulted in such a long creative partnership and using their designs to compliment each others work.

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  21. Dearest Rosemary,
    Not only did she create happy textile, she herself lived a long life till the age of 93.
    Especially for her age period, she was very modern in her concept but she brought about lots of change and motivated others to follow!
    Sending you hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - both she and husband led a completely fulfilled life both creatively and emotionally.

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  22. I like her textiles. Your pictures make justice to her art.

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