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Robin Day

robin day designer

Robin Day was born in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire in 1915. At that time High Wycombe was a renowned furniture making town, although Day's family didn't have any connections with the industry. Day showed an interest in art from a young age and as a teenager he began painting watercolours. He particularly enjoyed painting landscapes, which allowed him to indulge his other passion, walking in the countryside around High Wycombe. Early promise in art meant that at the age of 16 he won a scholarship to the High Wycombe School of Art where he gained a grounding in draughtsmanship, as well as getting exposure to the surrounding furniture making industry.

Day was almost drawn directly into the Buckinghamshire furniture making world when in 1933 he took a position in the drawing office of a local furniture factory while continuing his studies at night school. Day found the factory experience uninspiring from a design point of view, but it gave him invaluable experience of the manufacturing process as well as an understanding of what it took to be commercially successful. Shortly after taking the job, Day was offered another position by Lucien Ercolani, founder of Ercol. While the offer must have been tempting, Robin's heart was set on continuing his studies full time at the Royal College of Art (RCA), to which he had been encouraged to apply by one of his teachers.

Day's time at the RCA was frustrating but ultimately fruitful. On arrival he found that the teaching of design was very limited with all the focus on fine arts. As a result he was forced to explore his interest in industrial and modern design on his own. Although Day's time at the RCA overlapped with Lucienne Conradi it wasn't until 1940, two years after he had left, that the two met. They were married two years later.

Robin Day had a long and varied career in design which ranged from teaching to exhibition design to what he was ultimately best known for, furniture design. Day is especially known for his long collaboration with furniture manufacturers Hille. Among other things, the collaboration produced the iconic Polyside chair. The Polyside was part of a range of polypropylene chairs designed by Day which included the E series, the Polypropylene armchair, the Polo chair and the Flat Top stool.

Robin Day was appointed an OBE in 1983. He died on the 6th August 2000 at the age of 95.


Contemporary Days: The Designs of Lucienne & Robin Day from Design Onscreen on Vimeo.