Press Release:
Lucienne Day: Living Design

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An exhibition at TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth
Opens 12 January – 22 March, 2017

In collaboration with TheGallery, Arts University Bournemouth, the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation announces Lucienne Day: Living Design, an exhibition that celebrates the life and work of one of most influential designers of the post-war generation, born 100 years ago on 5th January 1917.

Lucienne Day with Diabolo wallpaper (1951) in her Cheyne Walk studio © Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation

Lucienne Day with Diabolo wallpaper (1951) in her Cheyne Walk studio
© Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation

This is the first major exhibition in a year-long nationwide programme of exhibitions, events, awards and collaborations to celebrate the centenary of the pioneering designer’s birth.

The exhibition at TheGallery will tell the story of Lucienne Day’s design career, unfolding in a sequence of photographs drawn from the archives of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation. It begins in 1940 with her Diploma Show as a textile student at the Royal College of Art, and the work leading up to her career breakthrough at the Festival of Britain in 1951 with the pioneering ‘Contemporary’ design Calyx. It continues with her prolific output of patterns for furnishing and dress fabrics, table linen, carpets, wallpapers and ceramics for numerous companies in Britain and abroad during the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s. The exhibition concludes with her ‘second career’ in the last two decades of the century as a designer of handstitched fine art wall-hangings in the new medium she invented and termed ‘silk mosaics’.


(Left) Too Many Cooks tea towel, Lucienne Day, Thomas Somerset, 1959 Collection of Jill A. Wiltse and H. Kirk Brown III, Denver. Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation (Right) Reissue of HC 6236 dress fabric, Lucienne Day, (Cavendish Textiles, 1954), on John Lewis fashion, 2014. Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation

This photographic history is complemented by a vibrant display of original silk mosaics and an impressive array of current or recent productions of her designs for curtains, dress fabrics and tea towels, demonstrating the continuing vitality of her design legacy. In a lifetime of dedicated design practice, Lucienne Day created a body of work which is steadily coming back into commercial production to excite and inspire a new generation.

Lucienne Day: Living Design has been curated by Arts University Bournemouth Deputy Vice-Chancellor and design historian Professor Emma Hunt in collaboration with Lucienne’s daughter Paula Day, chair of the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation.

We are very fortunate to have a connection with Arts University Bournemouth through our Trustee Mary Mullin, as well as our Patron Professor Sir Christopher, the University’s Chancellor.” Comments Paula Day. “It’s been a great pleasure to collaborate with Deputy Vice-Chancellor Emma Hunt to conceive and realise Lucienne Day: Living Design. The exhibition will be shown in the spacious Gallery at the heart of the exceptionally fine campus, and its good to know that it will be a resource for the University’s creative arts courses. AUB’s ethos is ‘Turning Creativity into Careers’ – which is of course exactly what my mother did! I hope people will take away from the exhibition a sense of my mother’s extraordinary achievement. Through a lifetime of dedicated professional design practice, she created a body of work which is still vital today.”

Professor Emma Hunt, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Arts University Bournemouth, said: “I have been very privileged to work alongside Paula Day and it has been an amazing opportunity to spend time with her, going through the archives and hearing about her parents, who were so dedicated to their design practice.

 Lucienne Day is an inspiration to our students, especially those who study on our textiles and design degree courses. We are delighted to be hosting the first exhibition of a year-long celebration and to have worked with Classic Textiles, who have provided us with 12 classic designs to use in the show.

As a designer, Lucienne Day had a real sense of purpose and commitment to detail which enabled her to progress so successfully, and inspire future generations. I think one of the most important aspects of the exhibition is the support for student designers, not just of Textiles, but all design courses.

(Left) Reissue of Lucienne furnishing fabric, Lucienne Day, (Cavendish Textiles, 1974) on John Lewis cushion, 2014. Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation (Right) Artwork for Perpetua furnishing fabric, Lucienne Day, British Celanese, 1953 John Lewis Partnership Archives. Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation

(Left) Reissue of Lucienne furnishing fabric, Lucienne Day, (Cavendish Textiles, 1974) on John Lewis cushion, 2014.
Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation (Right) Artwork for Perpetua furnishing fabric, Lucienne Day, British Celanese, 1953
John Lewis Partnership Archives. Courtesy of the Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation

In the course of the year-long centenary programme, leading cultural organisations, galleries and creative institutions including The Whitworth Art Gallery, the RCA, Arts University Bournemouth, Glasgow School of Art, Pallant House Gallery, the Textile Society and The Museum of Carpet will launch exhibitions, events and awards to highlight many different aspects of Lucienne Day’s work.

The varied programme will introduce the public to fascinating and little-known material, including archive textiles, ceramics, photographs and portraits of Lucienne Day that have never before been exhibited or published.

During the year new product ranges will be launched by John Lewis and specialist design retailers and publishers in collaboration with the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation.


Notes to Editors 

About Lucienne Day
After discovering a love of printed textiles while studying at the Croydon School of Art, Lucienne went on to attend the Royal College of Art where she met furniture designer Robin Day in 1940. They married in 1942 and achieved celebrity in the 1950s as the designer couple who brightened postwar Britain. Lucienne Day died on 30 January 2010 aged 93. The couple’s only child Paula Day established The Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation in 2012.

Lucienne Day Career Highlights

– 1951 – Designed Calyx textile for the Festival of Britain
– 1952 – Won the International Design Award of the American Institute of Decorators
– 1954 – Won the Gran Premio prize at the Milan Triennale
– 1957 – Won a Design Centre Award for Tesserae carpet, produced by Tomkinson’s
– 1960 – Won a Design Centre Award for Iinen tea towels, produced by Thomas Somerset
– 1960s – Designed the interiors for BOAC’s fleet of Super VC10 aircraft with Robin Day
– 1962 – Elected a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI)
– 1962 – Appointed as joint design consultant with Robin Day by John Lewis
– 1981 – Solo silk mosaics exhibition at Lyttelton Gallery, National Theatre, London
– 1983 – Solo silk mosaics exhibition at Rohsska Museum, Gothenberg, Sweden
– 1987 – Elected first woman Master of Royal Designers for Industry
– 1991 – Created largest silk mosaic Aspects of the Sun for John Lewis, Kingston
– 1992 – Appointed as the first Honorary President of the Textile Society
– 2004 – Awarded the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E)
– 2005 – Awarded the Worshipful Company of Weavers’ Silver Medal for outstanding contribution to textile design
– 2009 – Received Honorary Doctorates from the University of Brighton along with Robin Day

About the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation
Robin and Lucienne’s daughter Paula Day set up the Foundation in 2012 to further public knowledge of and access to her parents’ design legacies, and to provide resources for the study of design. The Foundation is run by a Board of Trustees chaired by Paula Day. Professor Sir Christopher Frayling and Fiona MacCarthy OBE are Patrons.

As a design education Charity dedicated to furthering public knowledge, appreciation and understanding of the Days’ design legacies, the Foundation has made donations from Robin and Lucienne’s personal design archive to leading public collections including the V&A Museum, London, the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester and the Geffrye Museum, London. The Foundation also works closely with design writers and curators to provide information about the Days’ design careers, and has now digitized both Robin and Lucienne Day’s historic design photograph archives to create an important educational resource. In 2015 the Foundation celebrated Robin Day’s centenary with Day in London, a series of exhibitions and events held during the London Design Festival. This included Robin Day Works in Wood, an exhibition exploring Robin Day’s lifelong love of wood as a material, which took place at the V&A Museum.

The Foundation encourages public access to Robin and Lucienne Day’s design legacies by working closely with selected companies that have a commitment to making high-quality authentic new productions of the Days’ original designs. All royalties are paid directly to the Foundation to support its educational work.

Foundation Chair Paula Day says, ‘I set up the Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation to carry my parents’ great design legacies forward into the future and provide resources to help educate tomorrow’s great designers.’

About Arts University Bournemouth
Arts University Bournemouth was first established in 1885 as a specialist art institution, and is now a leading University, offering high quality specialist education in art, design, media and performance across the creative industries.

The University remains passionate about its subjects and continues to encourage curiosity, risk-taking and adventure in exploring and pushing the boundaries of subject knowledge. AUB is committed to innovating, collaborating and connecting in ways that turn creative talent into careers.

The BA (Hons) Textiles course at AUB is a broad reaching creative study of the discipline and its applications. Students have the opportunity to focus on a variety of specialist areas, including textiles for fashion, textiles for interiors and textiles as design/crafts. Traditional skills are taught together with expertise in design development, production and contemporary invention.

TheGallery at AUB is an international and award-winning contemporary gallery that sits within a major arts university in the UK. TheGallery is a unique space for the Arts in the South of England, showcasing work from leading national and international contemporary artists, designers and holds collections on loan from major national galleries and museums.

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