Marcel Gascoin (1907 – 1986) was a French furniture designer and decorator. The son and grandson of mariners, Gascoin had a special respect for small, organised spaces and set out to apply what he had learned to the land. Because of the inventiveness, economy, and effectiveness of his storage units, he was hired to build affordable housing and classrooms.
He studied architecture at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, under Henri Sauvage.
From 1950, he designed furniture in wood. He specialized in furniture arrangements and developed a theory of the organization of living spaces. In 1931, he became a member of UAM (Union des Artistes Modernes). Many young designers, including Pierre Guariche, Pierre Paulin, Michel Mortier, and Rene-Jean Caillette, worked in Gascoin’s bureau d’etudes after World War II.
While keeping pace with the revolutions that shook his world, Gascoin continued to show at popular exhibitions and expos like the Salon des Arts Ménagers, an annual exhibition of home furnishings and accessories from 1923 until the 1980s. He inspired a student honour roll as an instructor. Gascoin was the most collegiate of men, eager to work with other designers and uncommonly committed to the common good and sharing objectives. He even collaborated with the man whose work is occasionally mistaken for his, Jean Prouvé, in a competition to build a boat’s cuddy cabin—the ultimate small-space challenge. Although unsuccessful in winning the prize, their decision to work together indicates a good rapport. (Muse, 2018)
Inspiration from the Ocean Liner
The design and decoration of the logis nouveau were influenced by modes of mobility, such as automobiles, ocean liners, and railway dining and sleeping cars. Marcel Gascoin was influenced by Le Corbusier’s observation of a ship’s cabin and saw the organisation of ocean liners as a means of making cramped spaces liveable. (Rudolph, 2015) His stylish simple furniture was a way of filling the 20,000 apartments the Government hoped to build every month. (Miller, 2018) Gascoin’s furniture could be described as furniture for people who went through a war. The reference to France’s post-WWII reconstruction period. (Muse, 2018)
- His work was shown at the 1930 (I) exhibition of UAM, where he met Robert Mallet-Stevens.
- 1934 competition designing cabins of steel oceanliners organized by OTUA (Office Technique pour I’Utilisation de l’Acier);
- 1936 competition of school furniture;
- 1949-50 (I) ‘Formes Utiles’ exhibition, Pavillon de Marsan, Paris;
- 1956 (I) Triennale d’Art francais Contemporain, Paris;
- 1947, in charge of presenting seven apartments, ‘Urbanisme et Habitation’ exhibition, Grand Palais, Paris.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.
Miller, J. (2018). Miller’s Mid-Century Modern: Living with Mid-Century Modern Design. United Kingdom: Octopus.
Muse. (2018, March 15). Rediscovering the French Midcentury Designer Overlooked for Decades. Architectural Digest. Retrieved April 1, 2023, from https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/marcel-gascoin-houston-mfa
Rudolph, N. C. (2015). At Home in Postwar France: Modern Mass Housing and the Right to Comfort. Germany: Berghahn Books.
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, March 24). Marcel Gascoin. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 00:14, March 1, 2021, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Marcel_Gascoin&oldid=947169402
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