Tuesday, July 10, 2012

France, May, 1939

One of the nice things about collecting old magazines is that I have a treasure trove of inspiration. One of the bad things about collecting old magazines is that I often forget which ones I own. Over the weekend, I found a May 1939 issue of the French magazine L'Illustration, an issue about which I had completely forgotten. The issue's theme was houses and design, and it contains photos of all kinds of wonderful Parisian apartments and country villas.

While reading the magazine, it dawned on me that this issue was published just a few months before Hitler's invasion of Poland, an event that ultimately embroiled Europe in World War II. That's not to say that in May, 1939, Europeans were ignorant of the troubling brewing around them; most were in fact aware of the Nazis' growing threat. But, I suppose that in the spirit of "business as usual" (or perhaps "sticking one's head in the sand"), European magazines continued to promote the high style fashion and interiors that were the rage in the 1930s.

The interiors seen here were done by Jansen, Ramsay, Eugène Printz, and a firm with which I'm not familiar, Porteneuve. I don't know if these photos show actual residential interiors or showroom vignettes. Still, I think it's interesting (and rather sad, too) to look at these interiors with the knowledge that Europe was about to change forever.

Image at top: Salon by Ramsay

Room by Jansen

Dining Room by Eugène Printz

Salon by Porteneuve

Bedroom by Eugène Printz



  1. The rooms seem so sparse, and to your point, a feeling of emptiness.

  2. I especially appreciate that last shot of the Jansen game table, obviously their own design. It features two swing-out low table platforms, so the cigarettes and built-in ashtray will be close-at-hand. Now that's French design.

  3. One point that struck me, these spaces could be on the covers of magazines today! Classic design remains, trends come and go.

  4. I'm reading "In The Garden of Beasts" which dovetails with your fantastic post. Although I love the furniture, which is current for today, these rooms echo the disconnect from reality and loss of soul that were two of the reason for Hitler's success. Great post. Thanks Mary

  5. my hallway is the same colour as walls in first photo, a sort of pinky, orangey salmon colour which changes depending on the light. Love these photos, very special and so modern!