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. 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.
Image credit : Retrowow
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.
Famous G Plan designs and signature features
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.
G Plan Fresco tallboy chest of drawers | Ridgeway Antiques
This tallboy 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 chests of drawers to sideboards and wardrobes.
Many mid-century sideboards have clean straight lines. G Plan sideboards however have 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 coffee table from the Astro range 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.
Is G Plan furniture worth anything?
G Plan is one of the most sought-after stalwart brands of the mid-century. Today, achingly contemporary homes utilise the clean lines, sleek forms and understated elegance of Fresco sideboards, Quadrille nests of tables, and Astro coffee tables to create a delightfully honey-hued aesthetic. It’s not unusual for a Kofod Larssen-designed G Plan sideboard in tip-top condition to fetch up to £2,000 on the open market. And for more modest budgets, G Plan produced ranges that utilised the beauty of teak veneer as well as solid teak and rosewood equivalents.
So, why not take the plunge and enjoy exploring Vinterior’s curated collection of gorgeous G Plan pieces? Having already lasted a lifetime, you can be sure of the durability, character, and provenance of each piece. Make your home a little piece of G Plan heaven today.