For generations of students, the chair is instantly recognizable: the curved polypropylene seat, the small hole at the small of the back, the slim legs. Designed by Robin Day in 1971 and still sold by Hille, the Series E chair is a bona fide.
But the influence of man behind the design, along with his wife of 68 years, Lucienne, extends far beyond the classroom. The Days were the power couple at the heart of London’s furniture and textile design communities, starting in the 1950s, and their private homes reflected their roles as hosts and artistic collaborators.
After the Days’ deaths, in 2010, arts and design museums received the majority of their private collection. As for the remaining pieces: If you’re willing to place an online bid, they could be headed for your living room.
This week London-based design shop twentytwentyone is hosting an auction of select pieces from the Days’ private collection. Among the standouts: A silk mosaic handmade by Lucienne, with rich greens, blues, and golds receding to a dark corner “window,” and a mahogany-topped dining table with stainless steel legs, designed by Robin and manufactured by Hille.
The 93 items included in the auction range from the personal to the historic, with Lucienne’s hand-written recipe cards alongside a prototype of Robin Day’s famous Leo armchair. Items that showcase the Days’ sources of inspiration are also represented, from lithographs by Miro and Picasso to ancient carvings and pottery from around the world.
Private and public design histories “of course” overlap, daughter Paula Day told a London Design Festival audience gathered for the launch of the auction, “because my parents’ creativity was always rooted in their home lives.”
Proceeds from the sale, which runs through September 21, will benefit the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation, a charitable trust established by Paula in 2012.
[More at twentytwentyone]