Best known for her textiles, Lucienne Day, OBE, RDI, FCSD (1917–2010) was a virtuoso pattern designer and colourist in a wide range of media including wallpapers, carpets, ceramics and hand-stitched fine art ‘silk mosaics’. In the course of her six-decade career she created an extraordinarily varied but distinctive body of work; designs like her Festival of Britain print Calyx still look as fresh and contemporary as when they were first launched. She was inspired by 20th century abstract art, the world’s great decorative art traditions, and her lifelong personal fascination with plant forms. She handled her palette of predominantly strong colours with great subtlety and originality. For twenty-five years, Heal’s star textile designer, Lucienne Day also produced work for numerous other clients in Britain and abroad, including John Lewis, Edinburgh Weavers, British Celanese, Tomkinson’s carpets, Irish linen company Thomas Somerset, and German wallpaper and ceramics firms Rasch and Rosenthal. From the early 1960s she collaborated with her husband Robin Day on BOAC aircraft interiors and a design consultancy to John Lewis. In the late 1970s she began a second career when she invented a new textile medium, the silk mosaic. These hand-stitched fine art wall hangings were widely exhibited and still grace public buildings all over the world.
Lucienne Day is remembered not only as a great designer, but also as a pioneering professional woman whose achievements were on a par with those of her husband, furniture designer Robin Day. The couple shared a belief that good design should be affordable and accessible.
Photograph: Lucienne Day with Calyx, Heal’s, 1951. © Robin & Lucienne Day Foundation