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Fabric copyright row: Daughter of Lucienne and Robin Day 'deeply hurt'

Paula Day, daughter of the late Lucienne and Robin Day, says she is ‘deeply hurt’ by the reaction of Heal’s over a range of fabrics branded as ‘Lucienne Day-inspired’

In a letter to the AJ, she says the row with the Tottenham Court Road-based store troubled her ‘father’s last week’ and was ‘deeply hurt’ by correspondence sent to the 95-year-old furniture designer on the day of his death, 9 November, threatening legal action.

Paula’s father had urged Heal’s to remove a range of products from sale which, the family claims, had been released without consulting Lucienne (see attached document).

She said: ‘I’m very sad indeed that my mother’s work has been involved in this messy situation so soon after her death. It was quite unnecessary. While always fastidious about the way her designs were used, she was open-minded and willing to work with people if properly approached and consulted.’

She added: ‘In spite of [Robin’s] illness he undertook correspondence with Heal’s, in which he urged them to remove the products from the market. This they refused to do before June 2011.

‘By the end of the year a large photograph had appeared at the Tottenham Court Road store, showing my father standing behind my mother, smiling down above a display of the products which in the last weeks of his life he had fought to get withdrawn.

‘I’m deeply hurt that my parents were treated in this way.’

No legal proceedings were ever issued by either party.

Response from Heal’s

As part of our Bicentenary celebrations Heal’s ReDiscovers has developed, a collection of new products inspired by Heal’s heritage. Part of this collection includes a range inspired by Lucienne Day’s prints, originally produced by Heal’s from 1950’s onwards. Heal’s is extremely proud of its heritage and the wide range of designers that it has supported both in the past and present.

All of the Lucienne Day designs we have taken inspiration from originate from Heal’s own archive held at the V&A, Heal’s championed Lucienne Day’s work and bought and produced more than 70 of her designs over a 20 year period. Under the terms on which we donated our archive to the V&A Heal’s still holds rights to the contents allowing us to be able to still reproduce items from it.

We have taken legal advice on the ownership rights on printed fabrics and are confident that we are entitled to use all the design in our Heal’s ReDiscovers Lucienne Day inspired collection.

Whilst we have done nothing more than use our historic designs in ways we are absolutely permitted to use them, we appear to have caused concerns for the Day family in the way we have described the products. We do have a huge respect both for the talents of Lucienne Day and the feelings and wishes of her family.

Heal’s wrote to the Day’s in 2008 outlining the plans for the celebration of Heal’s 200th years of trading. Heal’s received no reply to this letter and continued on the basis that Lucienne Day did not wish to be actively involved but that there was no objection to the plans.

The relationship between Heal’s and Lucienne Day is central to Heal’s heritage and our wish was simply to celebrate and acknowledge this legendary partnership.

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