Robin Day’s prizewinning design for the Royal Festival Hall chair, created for entry into MoMA’s 1948 International Low-Cost Furniture Competition, helped to launch his career as an industrial designer. Day enjoyed a long-term consultancy with Hille, the chair’s manufacturer, as well as the establishment of a studio with his future wife, Lucienne.
Epitomizing the contemporary style and technological innovation of the 1951 Festival of Britain, the chair was featured in the couple’s Home and Gardens pavilion as well as in the lounge of the new Royal Festival. The chair also appeared in that year’s Milan Triennale and was soon put into production for an international market. Robin Day’s radical molded plywood seating design appears on the point of taking flight, as if lifted off its slender steel legs by the surge of energy and hope also expressed in the Festival of Britain that year. The lemon-yellow upholstery and copper-plated legs add to the extraordinary visual vitality of this sculptural piece.
The fabric hung in the background (left) is by Austrian-born textile designer Marian Mahler, a contemporary of Robin and Lucienne Day. The yellow textile on the right is a length of Lucienne’s 1958 design Mezzanine, which was presented to the Museum by Denver-based Lucienne Day collectors Jill A. Wiltse and Kirk H. Brown III.
Photographed as Part of the Exhibit, The Value of Good Design, on View at The Museum of Modern Art Through June 15th, 2019.