A guide to iconic vintage furniture brand G Plan and how to identify original pieces
Why vintage G Plan should be on your radar
For furniture connoisseurs, G Plan is a household name. A rival to Ercol as a leading British 20th century brand – both founders Gomme and Ercolani were in fact close friends and professional peers – G Plan has produced some of the most recognisable furniture models over the last fifty years. Even if you do not know it yet, it is worth putting G Plan on your radar! An unchanging presence in many British households, G Plan blends very well with design across most eras. The timeless, simple contours of G Plan make it feasible for use in interiors both as statement design pieces and as stylish backdrop furniture to accentuate other leading features. The wood typically used in G Plan is teak, known for its rich depth of colour and practicality for everyday use.
G Plan came about as an indirect result of World War II
Britain was emerging from the madness of the Second World War when G Plan furniture first made an appearance. After years of rationing, the manufacturing of normal everyday items did not snap back into place. The problem lay in the fact that bombed out homes meant that there was a high need for new homeware, yet the shortage of raw materials and timber landed Britain in a new era of post-war austerity. The British government set up a scheme known as Utility which was designed to reduce costs of producing any furniture permitted to be sold. A limited number of simple utilitarian designs were provided to factories which were then made using mostly oak veneers. When the Utility scheme eventually ended in 1952, there was still huge – and largely unsatisfied – demand for more modern furniture.
Enter Ebenezer Gomme! (AKA founder of G Plan)
Ebenezer Gomme, like his fabulous Dickensian name, was an extraordinary visionary for British furniture design. In response to the deficit of attractive and well made furniture, Gomme pioneered a range of furniture which grew to become one of Britain’s most iconic brands. He set about designing an extensive range of household furniture, covering everything from nest tables to vanity units. It was possible to purchase G Plan as individual pieces rather than whole sets. Designs were made available over a long time period so that people could buy them slowly and according to budget.
Scandinavian design creates stiff competition
By the 1960s however, G Plan was facing serious competition from Denmark. Scandinavian design was booming in popularity across the UK. Everything it stood for – creating attractive, affordable, high quality furniture for the average home – held an infectious appeal. G Plan made a smart move and pursued a collaboration with budding Danish designer and architect Ib Kofod Larsen. Already making waves in modern design throughout 1950s Scandinavia, Kofod Larsen was commissioned to design a brand new range for G Plan which would be characterised by the same sleek and minimalist qualities elevated in Scandinavian homeware. Kofod Larsen’s designs were concerned with the natural beauty of wood in its rawest form. He believed every tree to be unique, the movement of grain lending a concomitant uniqueness to each piece of furniture produced, often using elegant woods such as rosewood and palisander. Unsurprisingly, the highly coveted new Danish range of G Plan furniture put a new wind behind the brand’s sails and it quickly became the nation’s preferred brand of homeware.
How to identify an original G Plan design
The most significant indicator of an original G Plan model – beyond signature stylistic features – are the labels. The brand created a series of recognisable labels which referenced a variety of designs, used to distinguish between ‘regular’ G Plan furniture and Danish ranges.
The first range of furniture, from 1952 heading into the 1960s, saw furniture embossed with a gold stamp. Every piece was branded with this stamp. The text reads: ‘E Gomme, High Wycombe’. The central initials stand for E Gomme. Beneath his name you will see ‘G Plan’ in capital letters.
Any item attributed to Ib Kodod Larsen has a label which carries his signature and the words ‘Designed by Ib Kofod Larsen, G Plan Danish design. Made by E Gomme LTD, High Wycombe, Bucks.’
During the second half of the 1960s, G Plan adopted a red label. Unlike the gold stamp, this red label could be pulled off and attached to non-genuine models so remain cautious and look for other indicators of G Plan design!
From the mid seventies to the early nineties – when the studio closed down – G Plan continued to apply red labels to furniture but used gold metallic lettering on the logo. These labels below are the only ones recorded as being officially G Plan. Be cautious of relying solely on red peel off labels as indicators of authentic G Plan. The vintage dealer should be able to point out details in the manufacturing which align with mid century practices across production. This blog shows you what to look for.
Famous G Plan designs and signature features
As mentioned earlier, G Plan produced a vast range of furniture items for the home. Below are just some of the most well known pieces which showcase signature elements of G Plan design.
This tall boy chest of drawers has beautiful round handles characterised by a curling lip, a distinctively G Plan aesthetic. This lip handle is seen across everything from chest of drawers to sideboards and wardrobes.
Many mid century sideboards have clean straight lines. G Plan sideboards however have a noticeable concave linearity. This can be seen across numerous aspects of G Plan design. For example, in supporting structures like this model below or on cupboard doors.
The G Plan Astro coffee table is another easily recognised model. Whether round or oval, the table features a circular plate of glass with a chunky wooden surround. The entire model sits on a distinctive curving criss-cross of four legs.
The Vinterior creative team picks their favourite G Plan designs
The floating top adds an interesting element to this desk which makes it a dynamic piece. The elevation of the surface prevents the desk from becoming a block of wood, it creates space and lends the piece a more sculptural quality. The floating top is a famous design feature recognised around the world, making it a great investment piece too. Other details typical of G Plan design include the curled over lip handles, a sleek alternative to more traditional handle design. – Jordan, Performance Marketing Manager
The unique design of this hexagonal coffee table with its sharp lines and dark wood really caught my eye. The unusual shape breaks up other furniture in the space; the best interiors are often those which incorporate a host of varied shapes and forms through furniture. I also like the contrast between the curved arches and the angularity of the hexagonal surface. It would look perfect in a mid-century living room adorned with a houseplant or two. – Luana, Digital Designer
I love these stylish G Plan dining chairs upholstered in velvet because it is important to weave in other materials to break up the use of too much wood in a room. Here, the velvet gives the chairs an elegance – and durability too, as velvet is a very hard wearing fabric. The colours are unique and playful. It is fantastic that the chairs are bespoke, allowing you to choose the perfect shade of upholstery for your home! –Marie, Content & Social Media Intern
The herringbone facade on this G Plan sideboard sets it apart from other models. Patterns add movement and interest to a space – if everything is plain, it can look a bit static. Interestingly, this vintage model has been modernised through the addition of hairpin legs. Their triangular shape echoes the herringbone motif, a nice touch! Upcycled vintage is a brilliant way to breathe new life into an older piece of furniture. – Andrew, CRM Manager
This circular dining table is a distinctively G Plan find. The elegant tapered legs are a charming feature; it is this attention to detail which sets G Plan apart from so many other furniture brands. This table is not only beautiful but practical, for compact London homes it is really useful to have an extending table for when friends come over (which then doesn’t dominate the space during the rest of the week). Another clever design feature is how the chairs fit neatly underneath the table. Visually, the mid century chairs are also beautiful with subtly curving frames and timeless black leather upholstery. Paired with warm teak, the black avoids looking too severe. All together, a wonderful dining set! – Lizzy, Content and Social Media Associate
Title image: designsponge.com