Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

(established 1906)

Since the Second World War this British furniture manufacturing company has established a reputation alongside the innovative ideas of designer Robin Day. Its origins lay as a family business producing handcrafted reproduction furniture with an aesthetic policy that responded to consumer demand. However, this outlook changed in the late 1940s when the company began producing modern furniture designed by Day alongside reproduction 18th‐century styles for the important American export market. Day became a consultant to the company in 1949, modernizing many aspects of the company's public identity, its showrooms, and exhibitions. A notable early instance of the latter was Day's design of a contemporary dining room for the 1949 British Industries Fair, normally a very conservative showcase for British manufacturing industry. His work for the company also penetrated international showcase for progressive design including the highly profiled Milan Triennali at which Hille and Day were awarded a Gold Medal in 1951 and two Silver Medals in 1954. Successful designs included the plywood Hillestack chair (1950–1), the Q‐Stack chair (1953), and Form unit seating (1957). In the same period Hille took up licences to reproduce furniture designs from overseas companies, most notably designs by Herman Miller and Knoll from the USA. However, Hille also sold licences for foreign companies to reproduce designs by Day and Hille, enhancing its reputation overseas. An important shift in the company's outlook followed a period of experimentation with new plastics technologies, notably Polypropylene, through which Day found elegant and practical design solutions in his Mark I (1962) and Mark 2 (1963) chairs. The latter sold millions and became a design icon. In 1967, like a number of Italian companies in the same period, Hille established an experimental plastics workshop in order to maintain a competitive edge. In the late 1960s the company also developed its office furniture and office systems ranges, emerging strongly with the Hille Office Landscape System in 1973.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.