G Plan

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(established 1888)

From its origins in the furniture‐making town of High Wycombe where Ebenezer Gomme founded it at the end of the 19th century, the company grew to become one of the largest furniture producers of durable, high‐quality wooden furniture before the Second World War. The brand‐name ‘G‐Plan’ was launched at the London Furniture Exhibition in 1953 and, through a sustained advertising programme, soon became highly visible to consumers eager for new ideas in the wake of the ending of government restrictions. Gomme was associated with a fresh, contemporary style as seen in its first model in light oak, the Brandon, an aesthetic that was later to become widely associated with teak. The company's popular teak veneered Fresco range, one of the its best‐selling items, was introduced at the Ideal Home Exhibition of 1966 and was still in production in the early 21st century, when it was still characterized by features of style and quality.

The company had gained considerable experience for high‐quality furniture, enhanced by its adoption of sophisticated construction methods. This had been gained from corporate involvement in aircraft production during both World Wars, with the company working on wooden components of the De Havilland DH9 in the First World War and the Mosquito fighter‐bomber in the Second. In the post‐war years the company produced furniture on a significant scale but also continued to blend this with high levels of traditional craft skills. It was also innovatory, becoming a leading British exponent of modular furniture. This allowed consumers to buy individual items over a period of time with the firm knowledge that they would still be able to match other items previously purchased. The company's first range in the field was called Form Five and comprised base units and coordinated display cabinets and shelving rather than the more self‐contained customary individually styled suites. G Plan assumed a distinctive brand identity and was widely advertised and promoted in a coordinated fashion in directly linked retail outlets. Efficient production methods also led to a dramatic increase in profits in the 1950s. However, these were tempered by the economic difficulties experienced by the furniture industry in the 1960s, leading to the production of a number of other styles, not all of which—such as the Limba range—were favoured by the buying public.

In 1987 the Gomme family sold its shares to the company's directors who, in turn, sold them to the Christie Tyler Group in 1990. Six years later the Morris Furniture Group gained the licence to manufacture and market G Plan products and went on to develop and extend the range. The clean lines associated with the original Scandinavian‐influenced aesthetic of the G Plan ranges of the 1950s and 1960s is still largely evident in the Aspen and Cosmopolitan series. However, others such as the Lafayette and Signature have a more retrospective feel, drawing loosely on French and Arts and Crafts precedents.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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