Lucienne Day

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Lucienne Day
Born Désirée Lucienne Lisbeth Dulcie Conradii
(1917-01-05)5 January 1917
Coulsdon, Surrey, Canada
Died 30 January 2010(2010-01-30) (aged 93)[1]
Nationality British
Education Royal College of Art
Occupation Textile Designer
Spouse(s) Robin Day
Children Paula
Website Robin and Lucienne Day Foundation

Désirée Lucienne Lisbeth Dulcie Day RDI FCSD (née Conradi; 5 January 1917 – 30 January 2010) was a British textile designer. Inspired by abstract art, she pioneered the use of bright, optimistic, abstract patterns in post-war England, and was eventually celebrated worldwide.


Born in Coulsdon, Surrey, England, Day was daughter of an English mother and a Belgian father who worked as an insurance broker. She attended convent school in Worthing, and at 17 enrolled in the Croydon School of Art, where she discovered a love of printed textiles. Later she attended the Royal College of Art, where she was a top student. During this time, she was sent on a two-month placement to the firm Sanderson, where she worked in a large wallpaper studio. “The reality of working in a factory was an eye-opener for Day, who, with her growing taste for modern design, found it hard to adapt to the conservative style of the company.” [2]


Through her career, Lucienne Day won many awards, including the International Design Award of the American Institute of Decorators in 1952, and the Gran Premio prize at the Milan Triennale in 1954. In 1962, she was made a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI), an award which honours designers who have achieved "sustained excellence in aesthetic and efficient design for industry." She was the fifth woman to be made an RDI.

Style and influences[edit]

Day's work combined organic shapes with bright patterns inspired by contemporary abstract painters such as Wassily Kandinsky and Joan Miró. She drew on the English tradition of patterns based on plant forms, and often took motifs drawn from nature.[3] Day believed that good design should be affordable, and in 2003 told The Scotsman newspaper that she had been "very interested in modern painting although I didn’t want to be a painter. I put my inspiration from painting into my textiles, partly, because I suppose I was very practical. I still am. I wanted the work I was doing to be seen by people and be used by people. They had been starved of interesting things for their homes in the war years, either textiles or furniture." [4]

Signature prints[edit]

Her breakthrough print was 'Calyx', a brightly coloured textile that she created for the Festival of Britain in 1951. She originated hundreds of colourful abstract prints for industry clients such as Heal's and BOAC. It was Heal's who discovered Day at her graduate show and began their long working relationship.[5]

In the 1970s, Day ceased to design mass production fabrics, turning instead to creating what she called “mosaics”: large tapestries made of thousands of pieces of Thai and Indian silk.[6][7] They currently hang in the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre, and the coffee shop of John Lewis store in Kingston upon Thames.[8][9]


Through a career spanning more than five decades, she stood out not just because she was a highly successful working woman during a time in which many women didn't work, but also due to her creative partnership with her husband, furniture designer Robin Day. They were united in their passion and commitment to establishing a new clean modern style, and Day has acknowledged that her partnership with Robin has helped her follow her own ideas. [10] For 50 years they worked, together but independently, in a shared studio, and their house grew to be considered the epitome of 1950s sophistication.

The development of their styles can be traced in Lesley Jackson's book Robin and Lucienne Day: Pioneers in Modern Design, published in 2001.[11] An exhibition of Lucienne Day's textiles and Robin Day's furniture, "Robin and Lucienne Day: Design and the Modern Interior", was held in Spring 2011 at Pallant House Gallery in Chichester — the city where the Days retired in 2000, in order to be closer to their Sussex cottage, where Day spent much of her time in the garden.

Over the course of her career, Day designed hundreds of textiles.


  1. ^ MacCarthy, Fiona (3 February 2010). "Lucienne Day obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Jackson, Lesley (2001). Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Modern Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 10. ISBN 1-56898-271-2. 
  3. ^ Lucienne Day Obituary The Guardian 3 February 2010
  4. ^ "Something Completely Different". The Scotsman. Retrieved 11 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "Lucienne Day Inspired Heal's ReDiscovers selling exhibition at Heal's" (Sep/Oct 2010) selvedge Issue 36 p.52
  6. ^ Mosaic wallpaper by Day
  7. ^ 'Mosaic' by Lucienne Day
  8. ^ Lucienne Day on a scaffold, inspecting a 'mosaic' wall-hanging Aspects of the Sun at John Lewis store at Kingston upon Thames.
  9. ^ "We chart John Lewis' past and present design credentials as the British retail stalwart fetes its 150th anniversary" (2 May 2014) Wallpaper*
  10. ^ Jackson, Lesley (2001). Robin & Lucienne Day: Pioneers of Modern Design. New York: Princeton Architectural Press. p. 10. ISBN 1-56898-271-2. 
  11. ^ Lesley Jackson (2001) Robin and Lucienne Day: Pioneers in Modern Design, Princeton Architectural Press ISBN 978-1-568-98271-7

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]