It is always exciting to hear a behind the scenes story like the one where a sixty year old lady came to our Lord’s show hoping to find a rare table her grandfather had created. Serendipity was kind and within minutes she had spotted it on one of the stands and offered to buy it. Or when we discover the grandson of a famous midcentury production house is working as one of our dealers and sharing his grandfather’s passion. Sometimes we even meet the designers behind the chairs themselves.
Our latest story involves Robin Day’s 675 chair which we spotted at Clerkenwell Design Week on the Case Furniture stand. Intrigued to find out why they had a reproduced midcentury design classic in pride of place they told us they stumbled upon an early model after meeting Ben Joyner, a dealer at our Midcentury Modern show, eventually purchasing it via The Modern Marketplace. Case had been in discussions with the Robin and Lucienne Day foundation for some time about recreating Day’s 1952 design with its walnut veneered ply back, chrome plated steel frame and leather upholstered seat pad. “Upon meeting with the Foundation we discussed taking the chair back to the original standards and shape that Hille used to produce it to” says Duncan Bull, chief designer.
An original 675 chair with new vinyl upholstery from the shows
“Once we had purchased the original chair we sent it to Germany to have the plywood back 3d scanned to get the exact form and shape of the original pressing, This allowed us to create a new aluminium press tool to make the plywood backs. We made the frame the same as the original, which involved selecting the same thickness rod for the frame, finishing the frame with a black powder coating and changing the foot back to the welded disk foot that was a common detail on Day’s Chairs in the 50’s.”
Robin Day first collaborated with Case on the West Street Chair, launched in 2006. Day had been developing ideas for an armchair based on a cubic form for many years before Case put it into production. Born in 1915 in Buckinghamshire, Day won a scholarship to his local art school in the early 1930’s and worked for a brief period in a local furniture factory before going to the Royal College of Art.
Although best known as a furniture designer, like many designers of the time including the Eames, Day worked in graphics, exhibition, interior design, radio and television receivers, carpet and vinyl design and even passenger aircraft interior design – notably for the Super VC10. He won the first prize in the New York Museum of Modern Art International Competition for the design of low cost furniture in partnership with Clive Latimer and in 1950 began work for Hille as a design consultant, which took the company to new heights.
In 1951 Day designed the Festival of Britain Homes and Garden display and the Royal Festival Hall auditorium seating. Still in place, it is a testament to the quality of the design. Day designed furniture for many important buildings in the UK and abroad, notably for concert halls and theatres, airports, stations and sports stadiums. While sales for the ‘675 were more modest, his injection moulded plastic one-piece chairs sold tens of millions worldwide.