Home design Robin Day : the chairs of my childhood

Robin Day : the chairs of my childhood

by Clare Mansell
Robin Day : the chairs of my childhood

Case furniture are running a competition over the summer, giving bloggers a chance to win their stunning Sissinghurst armchair (which I think would look rather fab in our new bedroom!) or a 675 chair designed by Robin Day. All you have to do to enter is write a post about one of their products or designers. This is my entry…

As soon as I read the brief, I knew instantly that I wanted to write about the man who first made me appreciate the importance of great design. I was primary school age when I first stopped and absorbed the brilliance of a Robin Day design. You might have done the same too and not known it.

Robin was the man who designed those ubiquitous Polypropylene stacking chairs which are still in production 50 years and 14 million units after they were first produced. Every school, every youth club, every church hall had them when I was growing up, and I remember so vividly that moment mid-stack, when I thought “these are really quite clever.” I didn’t know it then, but at a very tender age, I was noticing one of the fundamentals of great design.

>But Robin Day was actually in my life from a much younger age. My childhood kitchen was furnished with bright yellow polo chairs and I used to love lingering over my tea after school, with my fingers exploring the holes in the chair and the static on its surface (possibly their one design flaw!) Those chairs disappeared from our lives when my parents moved house when I was 12 and they’ve left a strange emotional chasm in our family’s life. 25 years on my dad still talks about how he “should have hung on to them” not for their monetary value, but simply because good design never goes out of fashion.

Sadly there are no proper pictures of those childhood chairs, but we did manage to dig out a picture from my 4th birthday, where the polo chair is *just* visible behind one of my party guests.

Of course Robin Day didn’t just work with plastic. Both of the chair designs that Case currently stock, his West Street chair and his 675 chair (which is 61 years old!) combine leather and wood to create a more luxurious feel.

Aside from his connection to my childhood, the thing I like most about Robin Day is that he was a people’s designer. His career was spent making furniture for the masses and he always liked a new challenge or an adventure. Although he died in 2010, I would like to think if he were starting his career as a designer now, he would have embraced things like crowd-funding, Pinterest and upcycling with the same enthusiasm with which he took on plywood and polypropylene.

This is my entry into Case Furniture Contemporary Blogging Competition. Find out more at: http://casefurniture.co.uk/

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Caroline South September 3, 2013 - 9:29 am

Great post, such wonderful memories and sweet photo you found. I love the polo chairs, I’d love to have several of the colours together round a dining table!
Didn’t he and Lucienne Day live in Chichester in later life? Good luck with the competition x

Clare Mansell (Maybush Studio) September 3, 2013 - 10:28 am

Yes they did – very well remembered!

Catrin Lewis September 4, 2013 - 2:43 am

Oh those chairs! I’ll never forget the shame of sitting in one in registration one morning and the legs giving way beneath me 🙁

Case Furniture September 25, 2013 - 3:04 pm

Great post Clare. Love the pic of you on the Polo chair when you were very young. It’s funny how things that we had when we were young disappear as we no longer want them as adults. It’s only later we realise how good they were and want them back. Wish I had kept some things – they would look great now.

Case Contemporary Blogging Competition | Case Furniture August 7, 2015 - 1:08 pm

[…] Maybush Studio. The Judges said “Love the personal take on this article! We have all grown up around his products and his furniture will always be a big inspiration.” […]


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