Cen­te­nary events cel­e­brate pro­lific bril­liance of Lu­ci­enne Day

Home Thoughts

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

Robin and Pa­tri­cia Sil­ver, The Home, Salts Mill, www. the­home­on­line.co.uk

THIS YEAR marks the cen­te­nary of the birth of Lu­ci­enne Day. Her ac­tual birthday was on Jan­uary 5 but through­out the whole of 2017, look out for a se­ries of com­mem­o­ra­tive ex­hi­bi­tions, lec­tures and other cel­e­bra­tory events.

This spe­cially com­mis­sioned logo, pic­tured, em­bod­ies the ca­lyx shape – a sort of asym­met­ri­cal tri­an­gu­lar shield – that was first used in a tex­tile de­sign for The Fes­ti­val of Bri­tain in 1951 and rapidly be­came Lu­ci­enne Day’s graphic call­ing card. Her use of colour was al­ways orig­i­nal and strik­ing whether this ap­plied to the ban­nis­ters in her Lon­don home, painted al­ter­na­tively white, black and le­mony yel­low, or her bold prints on cur­tain and up­hol­stery fab­rics, tea tow­els, wall­pa­per, car­pets, china dinnerware and other ce­ram­ics.

From the 1950s to the mid70s, Lu­ci­enne Day was hugely pro­lific: she lived to be 93 and in many ways her work epit­o­mised Bri­tain’s post war de­sign, mix­ing an op­ti­mistic con­tem­po­rary style that was more in tune with artists of the day than other de­sign­ers with the highly skilled crafts­men ar­ti­sans that gave Bri­tish man­u­fac­tur­ing pride of place in the world.

Whilst our love and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of mid cen­tury mod­ern de­sign from both sides of the At­lantic and from Scan­di­navia has never been stronger and iconic de­signs from this pe­riod are rapidly be­com­ing time­less clas­sics, our home life has changed ir­re­vo­ca­bly.

Just think of a world with­out lap­tops and tablets, a world with very few com­put­ers and where the few that ex­isted were the size of a large room. A world with party-line tele­phones (not some wild so­cial ac­tiv­ity but a phone line shared with a close neigh­bour) in­stead of smart phones with in­ter­net ac­cess, texts, mem­ory files, GPS and thou­sands of apps.

Back in the 1950s, shops were closed on Sun­days and of­ten half a day dur­ing the week, there were no su­per­mar­kets and daily shop­ping trips were es­sen­tial as few homes had freez­ers and not many had fridges. Dish­wash­ers didn’t ex­ist and wash­ing machines weren’t au­to­matic and still had mangles. A gym was where you learnt how to box.

This was a world with­out late night buses, mo­tor­ways, plas­tic bot­tles of wa­ter or take aways (ex­cept fish and chips), few im­ported cars and no on-line shop­ping. Home de­liv­er­ies were gen­er­ally made from lo­cal shops by bi­cy­cles with big bas­kets strapped over the front wheels.

There were, just about, two TV chan­nels with highly re­stricted hours of broad­cast­ing: week­day tele­vi­sion was be­tween 9am and 11pm with no more than two hours of tele­vi­sion be­fore 1pm and no broad­cast­ing at all be­tween 6pm and 7pm. Hol­i­days were gen­er­ally at Bri­tish seaside re­sorts or But­lins, as the pack­age hol­i­days to sunny Europe were still em­bry­onic. The very first trip in 1950 was to Cor­sica to stay in for­mer US Army tents with the prom­ise of meals full of meat and cheap wine. Re­mem­ber that it wasn’t un­til 1954 that ra­tioning in the UK fi­nally ended.

In that world, Lu­ci­enne Day’s de­signs must have ap­peared ter­rif­i­cally fu­tur­is­tic and yet they al­ways man­aged to re­tain a warmth and be on a do­mes­tic scale. To­day’s world may have changed im­mea­sur­ably but her de­signs live on as fresh and mod­ern and pro­gres­sive as the day they were first cre­ated.

The Home at Salts Mill, Sal­taire, is stock­ing a Lu­ci­enne Day 100 De­signs poster. For de­tails of cen­te­nary events visit robi­nand­lu­ci­enne­day foun­da­tion.org

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