The G-Plan brand was launched in the 50s. It defined modern furniture from the 50s to the 70s. In those days 'G-Plan' was a generic term for modern furniture in the way we still use 'Hoover' for vacuum cleaners. G-Plan was not cheap, but it was the brand most people aspired to own.
After many years of neglect a new generation is discovering G-Plan again. Vintage pieces are commanding high prices. People are finding that furniture from the 50s and 60s and particularly G-Plan, was better made than antique furniture and looks stunning in a modern setting.
G-Plan brand history
G-Plan was the brainchild of Donald Gomme. The family firm, E Gomme, had made traditional style furniture since the Victorian age. In 1952 he brought the firm up-to-date when he launched G-Plan. G-Plan combined modern style, a national brand name and a clever concept - interchangeable furniture.
Before G-Plan, furniture was only available in suites for the bedroom, dining room or living room. G-Plan changed furniture buying forever. Now people could buy as much or as little G-Plan as they wanted. They could buy one coffee table or a complete G-Plan look for the whole house.
Brandon - the first G-Plan range
The first G-Plan range was called Brandon. It was finished in light oak and in the contemporary style of the early fifties. It had a light look and feel, tables chairs and even heavy wardrobes and sideboards appeared to float off the floor. This affect was achieved with splayed legs and a simple, uncluttered look; both were key styling points for early fifties contemporary. G-Plan borrowed much from designers such as Robin Day, who pioneered contemporary furniture design. G-Pan was, though, aimed at a much wider audience.
G-Plan mid fifties glamour
Gomme updated the style of G-Plan throughout the fifties, sixties and seventies. The original light look of Brandon gave way to darker tola, or African mahogany. In the mid to late fifties there was a fashion for black ebonised legs and brass fittings. G-Plan followed this trend and upgraded its furniture with a glamorous look.
Initially, Gomme's success did not last into the early sixties. For G-Plan, 1960 was a bad year. The new G-Plan range for 1960 was not inspiring; it was yet another variation on tola, black and brass, which was already old fashioned.
Gomme introduced numerous different designs in an attempt to recapture the magic G-Plan formula. The severe and functional Limba bedroom range, designed by Leslie Dandy, ought to have been a best seller. Limba was veneered in a straight grain wood to make matching easy, but it stood on metal legs and looked a little like office furniture. The trade loved it; the public hated it. Limba was too advanced for its time; retailers soon cursed it as they were stuck with pieces of the unpopular Limba range in their showrooms. "Lumbered with Limba", was a phrase in common currency.
The World's Most Comfortable Chair
Although Limba was a disaster for Gomme, the firm had one notable success in 1962. It introduced a large, rounded swivel armchair with wings. It was available in several fabrics, but the buttoned black vinyl was a sixties style classic. This chair was very much a male thing; it could have come straight out of a James Bond movie. It was the chair that Michael Caine as Jack Carter, knocked Cliff Brumby into in the classis film "Get Carter". The inspiration for the chair was probably Arne Jacobsen's Egg Chair of 1958, which was similar in shape, but plainer. Gomme proudly proclaimed that it was the World's Most Comfortable Chair.
Ib Kofod-Larsen and G-Plan's first teak furniture
G-Plan went Danish in 1962. In an attempt to stop losing sales to Scandinavian imports, they hired their own Danish designer, Ib Kofod-Larsen. He designed a complete new range for Gomme, G-Plan Danish, in 1962. The highlight of the range was a 7 ft 6 inch sideboard in teak, which had unusual square rosewood handles. It was in the latest fashion of the era and looked stunning. The G Plan Danish sideboard sold for 61 10s [897 in todays money], which was rather expensive for a mass-market piece.
In the late sixties, the sculptured look was the new fashion and G-Plan led the market. They introduced their most successful range of teak furniture, Fresco, in 1967. G-Plan Fresco featured deeply sculptured handles and legs, combined with strongly patterned teak veneers. The new G-Plan Fresco dining set for 1967 had an extendible circular table and four dining chairs with padded circular seats and backs. The circle theme was a favourite of mid-sixties' design. The chairs had sculptured legs finishing in a circle at the top and bottom. The sideboard was large at 7 ft in length. It had the distinctive sculptured handles, which on the drawers appeared to imitate a smile. Fresco was for the bedroom as well as the dining room. There were Fresco wardrobes and chests of drawers, as well as a new dressing table. The dressing table had a special hidden drawer for jewellery. At 5 ft wide, it looked very impressive in the right room.
G-Plan in the seventies
Gomme continued with teak designs in the seventies. The Company positioned itself at the top of the popular market. The emphasis was on design and quality, rather than price.
G-Plan on the Golden Shot
ATVs popular game show "The Golden Shot", hosted by Bob Monkhouse, assisted by Anne Aston, offered a G-Plan Fresco dining suite and a G-Plan reclining chair as prizes in 1971.
This article is adapted from The G-Plan Revolution by Basil Hyman and Steven Braggs.
More on G-Plan
See also The High Wycombe Furniture Archive which contains an extensive collection of images from the history of the furniture trade including a large selection of G-Plan images.
Your comments on G-Plan furniture
"Hi, I have the New Seasons extending oval dining table and six chairs. The paint has worn on the table top. Can you advise me how to restore it or who could restore it. It doesnt seem exactly like a paint so not sure how to treat it. Still love it after original purchase in 1988. Thanks." Luella Keeley-Johnson 26/02/2017
"We purchased what we thought was a G plan dining room suite in 1966. The sideboard is approx 7 foot long and 4 foot high ( maybe higher). The chairs fitted under the sideboard and the table folded in half to fit over the chairs. It all fitted under the sideboard. I read many moons ago that there was a lull in the sale of some G plan furniture and 6 of these dining room suites were made. Is this true please and if so how much would it be worth today. Sadly I no longer have the chairs." Marilyn Hughes 09/03/2017
"I have some G plan wardrobes and need some new castors that fit onto the adjustable protruding shafts. Do anyone have any idea where I could buy some new/old ones?
Nigel" Nigel Bull 09/03/2017
"I have a 70s Gplan elm dining table, 4 upholstered ladder back chairs + 2 carvers. All in vgc
Can you tell me please,is this elm version
a) rare &
b) desirable" Gill Ferguson 12/03/2017
"Hi I have got a gplan sideboard. I just wondered the best way to value it? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you Stacey" Stacey 04/04/2017
"Butterfly back chairs. Can anyone help by explaining the construction method used to attach the curved back to the frame? Just purchased 4 chairs and hope to restore but am struggling to see if they are screwed (no visible screws) or dowel and glued. Any help gratefully received. Thanks. Judith" Juditn 22/04/2017
"I've owned two Mellissa suites - I absolutely loved them! Was the most comfortable settee I've ever had. I don't suppose there'll be a revival of this style will there?" Barbara 20/05/2017
It has been awhile since we last spoke. I am still doing research work for my Japanese clients on a two weekly basis. If you remember i sent you some G-Plan labels for your site a few years ago. My query is that they have purchased an Astro style carved top round coffee table made of teak with an inner glass top. The carving is around the teak top. Have you come across this version of Astro style coffee table before? I can send you a photograph. Best regards, Tony." Tony 15/06/2017
"I have recently been given a wooden coffee table, are you able to tell me whether this is g-plan? Thanks, Steve." Steve 18/07/2017
"Hi, I have a Kofod Larsen sideboard but one of the metal stays is broken. Do you know where i can get a spare. Many thanks Clive" clive salt 30/08/2017
"Any tips re repairing dents on g-plan fresco table top" james gibson 07/11/2017
I have g-plan 'fresco' round table that extends to an oval shape. It was here when we bought the house. Now we need to move and our hallways if fairly narrow so I need to take the table apart. But i can't for the life of me figure out how one can do this without braking the wood glue seal in some places.
Where these designed never to be take apart? thank you, Robin" Robin Friend 22/11/2017
"I have a pair of Brandon bedside cabinet's, they both have a wooden flap at the top, front of the drawer, I can only think that this is to prevent whatever is in the drawer pinching when the drawer is closed, but don't really know. Would you have any idea?
Thanks" Paul Butterworth 15/01/2018
"Hi-I have been given a gplan dining table -seats 8when extended.It has a double trestle style leg and 6 feet with brass tips.Both sliding table tops seem to have wooden batons missing-I assume these were to secure the tops when not extended.Can you give any advice on how I could secure underneath so that the two halves stay fixed?Any advice would be much appreciated." Fionnuala Forde 22/03/2018
"I have six original G-plan dining chairs. They need some restoration. Do any wine know who I can donate them too? Otherwise they're going in a skip :(" Kate Curtis 14/05/2018
"Anyone know how to remove the doors on a Gplan sideboard without damaging either the pins or the woodwork?" James 17/05/2018
"Hello - I have just bought a Gplan sideboard, but am missing a brown shelf support. Any ideas on where to get some? The local DIY stores only have shelf supports which are too small for the holes. Any advice welcome. Thank you." Harry 12/08/2018
"Hi, we have just bought a small oak chest of five drawers which I believe is the Brandon range from around the fifty's or sixty's as it has the gold label inside one of the drawers. There are some light scratches on the top and one corner has been rubbed so much that the polish has literally been rubbed right off. my question is really how can I make the furniture look as it should again ?. is the finish a wax polish or a type of oil or something else? any help would be greatly appreciated. many thanks... Jez" Jez preston 29/12/2018
"We have G Plan Ashdown bedroom furniture. How do I go about renovating the top surfaces, the "washed" paint finish has degraded in several places but the furniture is fine otherwise so we do not wish to replace it" Celia Lovegrove 26/01/2019
"Did G Plan ever have plastic drawers in their furniture? I have been sold an item as G Plan but am not convinced it is authentic. Thanks." Sarah 12/03/2019
"Hi iv got a sideboard table 4 chairs dressing table sets of draws all with red sticker on the invoice is dated 1967 and is all fresco would it be easy to sell?" Claudi 13/03/2019
I would put it on eBay. All the best" Steven 13/03/2019
"Any idea where or if it is indeed possible to get a wire bracket to hold a teak shelf. Teak shelf actually slides onto the wire. Have lost 2 & don't want to resort to a heath robinson solution to fix shelf." Ian 04/05/2019
"Hi, I have a 1960 GPlan Gomme bedroom suite consisting of triple wardrobe, dressing table, chest of drawers and double bed headboard with attached side tables all in excellent condition wood & cream where would you suggest selling or do you know anyone who would be interested" Pat Morphew 16/11/2019
"I have what I think are D-scan dining chairs 4 chairs and two carvers. They have a stamp "B" carved into the wood on the back stretcher bar. What are these - D-scan or G Plan and who is the designer? What decade might they be from?" Kate 27/11/2019
We have various items of furniture from the G Plan New Seasons White Ash range which we purchased new in 1988. We love the style and quality, but some items (mainly the nest of tables and the base units) are now in need of renovation.
I was able to remove the yellowing of the dining table by rubbing it with wet 1500 grit wet-or-dry paper. However, on other items the paint has worn off, so these need stripping back to the bare wood. I would love to restore these to their former glory, but I can't find any information on how the original finish was obtained. It's not a "chalked" look - more a thin eggshell finish paint (possibly water-based?) with the ash grain showing through.
Does anyone have any advice on the best way to remove the existing finish, which paint to use and how best to apply it?
Many thanks." Alan Browse 17/12/2019
Like you we also have some G Plan New Seasons White Ash which is still very much loved but in need of some TLC. Did you ever find out what sort of paint was used? I tried contacting G Plan but unfortunately that part of the company is no longer trading and they couldn't offer any advice." Sue 18/03/2020