Democratic design, a case study:
I wonder what Charles & Ray Eames would think seeing their simple, functional, universal furniture reduced to the status of elitist museum pieces? example being the ‘Eames Plastic Armchair’ above right, which was designed as part of contest put on by MOMA in 1950, the theme? ‘Low cost furniture design’ (emphasis mine) currently retailing at? £450.
Now all power to the people at Vitra that currently make the chair, they have fine stable of designers, take risks with their production and I’m sure are dedicated to what they do, but I will never in my 20’s be able to furnish my home in most of their goods. It’s not like I have a right to design classics either, this isn’t necessarily bellyaching but why is there so much talk of ‘Democratic’ design when clearly the emphasis is on high end? that’s when Robin Day comes in, Robin (pictured above) and his wife Lucienne are often compared to the Eames, and while they were both talented designers they rarely collaborated the way Charles and Ray did.
Robins most famous design is his 1963 'polypropolene chair' which he made for the British manufacturer ‘Hille’ it was cheap, functional, stackable and alledgedly the most widely sold chair of all time. He followed it up with several others in the same mold including the wonderful 'polyprop armchair' pictured above (c.1967) which I can attest is as lovely, comfortable and light as any Eames chair, cost? £59, or £83 if you want the legs in Chrome and still made in England in the Hille factory, either way it’s a comfortable price for any young apartment dweller, I think Robin would be thrilled, truly democratic design.