This highly functional and very attractive vintage chest of drawers boasts eight drawers side by side in two stacks of four, perfect for any couple and their mid century bedroom. The ‘wideboy’ from the G Plan Fresco range is just one piece from a beautiful range of mid century bedroom and living furniture that has such great appeal to retro lovers today.
British furniture designer Victor Bramwell (V.B.) Wilkins is best known for his Fresco range for G-Plan. Although all of Wilkins known works were produced by G-Plan, there is little biographical information available on the designer. It can be assumed, however, that he worked as an in-house designer for the British manufacturer for many years.
Although most of the British public reverted to traditional tastes after the war, there was a small but growing market for high-quality, modernist furniture, and G-Plan successfully spoke to this younger, more progressive audience. Through clever marketing campaigns, G-Plan set the standard for modernist, mass-market furniture in post-war Britain. G-Plan’s C Range, with an aesthetic that celebrated its machine production, was launched in 1953, and by 1957 it had become enormously popular.
By the 1960s, the Scandinavian look was sweeping international design, and British-made furniture was being outsold by Danish imports. To compete, G-Plan brought in Danish designer Ib Kofod-Larsen (1921-2003) to create new collections in fine woods, like teak and rosewood. While these Kofod-Larsen pieces have become very collectible today, at the time, they were not well appreciated by the design community—perhaps viewed as lesser variations on the furniture available from Scandinavia. It can be assumed that Wilkins was highly influenced by Kofod-Larsen’s designs as Wilkin’s pieces are often wrongly attributed to Kofod-Larsen.
Riding on the coattails of Kofod-Larsen’s success, Wilkins’ Fresco range also had a strong Scandinavian influence. Designed in 1966 and launched the following year, the range – which was G-Plan’s most successful range – included a suite of furniture for almost every room in a house, all finished in teak with beautiful, rich grain. The design itself combined the sleek and sculptural aesthetic of Italian furniture with the definitive Scandinavian style that was so popular at the time.
In addition to the Fresco range, Wilkins designed the Astro Coffee Table (1969) – which has clear references to Isamu Noguchi’s IN-50 coffee table (1944) – and the Spider occasional table (1970). Both feature curved teak bases that resemble the shapes after which they were named, although the latter is often referred to as Astro in contemporary catalogues. It is believed that Wilkins continued to design for G-Plan until the mid-1970s, though details of his life outside the manufacturer are unknown.