Marcel Gascoin (1907-1986)

Marcel Gascoin was born in Le Havre France in 1907 into a family of sailors. At a young age he was inspired by the precision of interior boat design. He first studied cabinetmaking and carpentry and then architecture with Henri Sauvage at les Arts Deco in France.

In 1930, he was invited by Mallet Stevens to the first UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes) exhibition.  He became a member of the union and presented several of his creations in the following years.

During the war he had time to think about the rational organization of the home and laid the foundations of storage systems built into architecture.

In 1947 he managed the International Exhibition of Urbanism and Housing at the Grand Palais, where he presented 10 apartments to to which he contributed in part.

In 1949 he designed the “Logis 49” for the Caisse d’Allocations Familiales which consisted in designing the ideal accommodation for a family with 6 children. He later worked with Auguste Perret for the reconstruction of le Havre with the same ideals.

His projects were enthusiastically welcomed which prompted him to found ARHEC (Aménagement Rationnel de l’Habitation Et des Collectivités aka Rational Planning of Housing and Communities) in order to produce his own furniture and that of his equally well known contemporaries (Pierre Guariche, Alain Richard , Pierre Paulin …).

Marcel Gascoin is truly a key figure of the French reconstruction. At that time, designers rejected The Art Deco movement, out of conviction but also out of necessity, to concentrate on the mass production of optimized and rationalized furniture to make it accessible to the greater number.

All the ads were presented in 1951 in issues of the French magazine Les Arts ménagers. All the products shown really emphasize his search for optimized pieces of furniture : furniture adapting to kids growing up, tables allowing different uses, modular wall units, amazing interior organisation of cupboards…

For a deeper plunge into Marcel Gascoin’s universe we reccommend the following books that have helped write this article:

  • DELAPORTE Guillemette, 2011, Marcel Gascoin, Paris : Editions Norma, 2010.
  • GENCEY Pierre, Marcel Gascoin, design utile, Paris : Editions Piqpoq, 2011.

The ads are taken out of the following issues of a French magazine :

  • Arts ménagers n°13, Janvier 1951, p. 22.
  • “Jeux d’étagères”, Arts Ménagers n°14, Mars 1951, pp. 86-87.
  • Arts ménagers n°16, Avril 1951, p. 20.
  • Arts ménagers n°17, Mai 1951, p. 22.
  • Arts ménagers n°18, Juin 1951, p. 18.
  • Arts ménagers n°19, Juillet 1951, p. 2.
  • Arts ménagers n°20, Aout 1951, p. 4.

The picture of Marcel Gascoin appears on p. 6 of Guillemette Delaporte’s, Marcel Gascoin, and is part of Monique Laurent-Gascoin’s collection.

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