Le Havre, World Heritage Site

Municipal Archives collection, Show-Flat, René Gabriel furniture.

Show flats

The new interior lay-outs require, from the very start, the work of decorators, true architects of the home, whose mass-produced furniture will become an inherent part of show flats, such as the ones presented in Ideal Home Exhibitions (1949-1952) and on the reconstruction sites (1951-1954).

In 1947, The French Ministry of Reconstruction and Urbanism sets up an Exhibition of Urbanism and Habitat at the Grand Palais in Paris, where two show flats meant for Le Havre are shown, both furnished with pieces by René Gabriel (built and sold in Le Havre). In 1952 and 1953, two show flats installed in situ, “on site”, present furniture by Marcel Gascoin, available for sale in Le Havre.

Marcel Gascoin is an interior decorator who designs two show flats in Le Havre: he uses scientific methods to determine the place for each object (everyday use, heavy or light…) and saves floor space thanks to shelve arrangements, combined and juxtaposed so they can form a partition wall, the “Gascoin wall”, soon to become his trade-mark.

The favored room is the kitchen where housework is made rational (meal preparation, cooking, dining-area, waste disposal); where hygiene standards are respected, creating new habits (the housewife easily moves from the kitchen to the dining-room, she can use a serving hatch or a sliding door).