French designer Marcel Gascoin (1907-1986) was one of the leading furniture designers of the post-war era. He played a vital role in the reconstruction of France after World War II, where his streamlined wooden furniture, focused on clean aesthetics and functionality, became the staple for 1950s French households.
Gascoin worked as an interior architect and designer with the French Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism to design and build homes and the furniture to fill them during the post-war housing crisis in France. Forward-thinking for his time and with a strong social conscience, Gascoin’s democratic design drew lines between art and industry, converging clean aesthetics with rational manufacturing processes.
From a young age, he was inspired by the precision and practical sense of interior boat design and this deep appreciation of making optimal use of available space followed him throughout his entire career. This also led to a collaboration with fellow colleague Jean Prové in a competition to design a boat cabin – and even though they did not win, the partnership between them proved a great mutual respect and revealed a common gratitude towards the work that is robust, clever and functional.
Marcel Gascoin was a member of the UAM (L’Union des Artistes Moderne) alongside important modernist designers Robert Mallet Stevens, Charlotte Perriand, Rene Herbst and Le Corbusier. This was an intellectual movement bound by a philosophy of design that united function with fabrication. In his own workshop, Gascoin passed on his know-how to the following generations of interior decorators, and several of Gascoin’s apprentices like Michel Mortier, Pierre Paulin, and Joseph-André Motte went on to distinguished careers as designers in their own right.
Today Gascoin’s work, unrecognized for a long time, has been progressively re-discovered by collectors, adoring his simple and striking furniture creations.