by Andrew Casey. ACC Editions, April 2014. 248 p. ill. ISBN 9781851497270 (pbk.), $59.50.

Reviewed May 2014
Yvette Cortes, Fine Arts Librarian, Lucy Scribner Library, Skidmore College, ycortes@skidmore.edu

Lucienne Day: In the Spirit of the Age is the newest addition to the Antique Collector’s Club series on textile design. Written by Andrew Casey, a design historian, this beautifully illustrated book provides a fascinating insight into mid-century British textile designer Lucienne Day’s life and prolific career. Day’s daughter, Paula Day, supported the book project, giving historical information and permissions to use certain research materials and images. She also wrote the book’s foreword.

Casey takes a detailed look at Day’s influential designs and how her inventive approach to pattern design set a new standard in Britain. In addition to Day’s textiles, this book also features her curtains, ceramics, table linens, tea towels, and wallpaper, from the 1950s through the 1970s. The book also includes Day’s rarely seen silk mosaics from the 1970s onwards. Day’s designs were modern, abstract, organic, and strikingly original for the time. Casey explores her influences, such as the Bauhaus, the paintings of Joan Miró and Paul Klee, Scandinavian design, and her love of nature.

Day believed that good design should be affordable and mass-produced and that it could improve the lives of ordinary people. Day worked with British department stores such as John Lewis and Heals, which brought her commercial success as well as critical acclaim. Due to their affordability and accessibility, her fabrics were found in many contemporary homes in Britain, making her the most well-known British textile designer of her period.

Lucienne is often viewed through the lens of her partnership with her husband, furniture designer Robin Day, as in the publication Robin and Lucienne Day: Pioneers in Modern Design (Princeton Architectural Press, 2001). They were Britain’s most celebrated designer couple of their time, much like Charles and Ray Eames were in the United States. Casey’s book shows how important the work of Lucienne Day was in its own right.

This thoroughly researched book includes copious notes and references. It concludes with a biography of Robin Day and mini bios of artists and designers mentioned in the book. It also includes a list of manufacturers, companies, exhibitions, and awards. A bibliography, general index, and indexes of designs by Day add to the scholarship. The book has over 100 pages of gorgeous color plates, many full-page. The illustrations and archive photography show the breadth of her work and are a rich source of visual inspiration.

Lucienne Day: In the Spirit of the Age is recommended for all art and design collections in museum and academic libraries and is accessible to all audiences.

©2014 ARLIS/NA