You may have missed it due to the holiday in the U.S., but yesterday would have been the 100th birthday of the famed British furniture designer Robin Day. While his name isn't a household one stateside, likely everyone in your household has sat on a Day creation; his blockbuster Polypropylene Chair, a well-considered £3 piece of plastic, would go on to become one of the best-selling chairs in history, with 50 million in circulation. Along with his wife, Lucienne, a brilliant textile designer, Day helped usher in a more modern, lightweight aesthetic to British furniture and interior design. While the couple worked independently, and not collaboratively, the impact they've had on the industry has often been compared to the Eameses.
Considering his trajectory, it's a surprise that Robin Day's career almost didn't get off the ground. The 1938 Royal College of Art grad found work as a professor and spent nearly a decade teaching 3D and interior design before a competition showcased his industrial design talents. The storage units he designed with partner Clive Latimer for a 1948 competition at New York's Museum of Modern Art grabbed attention worldwide, and big-name commissions for Day, especially the Royal Festival Hall in London, as well as future designs for S. Hille & Co., established his sterling reputation.