The Gane House

The Gane House, Bristol.
Syracuse University Libraries

In the summer of 1935, Breuer’s first project was to completely remodel the interior of Crofton’s own house in Bristol, limited only financially (to £1400, for remodelling, redecoration and all furniture and equipment). Gane would have “a complete suite of ‘show rooms’ that should be all the more convincing as a demonstration of the essentially reasonable design and craftsmanship of the best modern furnishing for being in daily occupation.”

The detached house which had been built in the 1920s had all its reception rooms and bedrooms gutted and the staircase replaced by an open-tread steel staircase.  The exterior remained unchanged except for the addition of Crittall doors leading from the dining room into the garden. One wall of the dining room was clad with corrugated cement roofing panels and the living room lined entirely with plywood.  

The reworked rooms were then provided with a range of fitted and non-fitted furnishings. With the exception of some imported aluminium Breuer chairs, all the furniture was made by the Gane craftsmen to Breuer’s specification. These pieces were a combination of designs that were intended as prototypes for production and pieces that were site-specific. Extensive use was made of black, grey and white painted surfaces and plywood veneers. Silver-grey aluminium furniture echoed several small tables topped with grey glass architectural tiles, while Chinese red carpet and chairs upholstered in blue set off the dining room’s white walls and black and aluminium furniture. Flashes of colour included green linoleum skirting on the walls and some of the furniture and a bright blue paint for the staircase.

The result was a show-house widely reported in the design and architectural press. Gane made extensive use of the photographs in his catalogues and was keen to emphasise that the furniture was innovative and available.

The Gane House dining room. Architectural Press Archive/RIBA Collections
The Gane House sitting room. Architectural Press Archive/RIBA Collections

Ken Stradling Collection