When people talk about retro furniture they are often referring to furniture that dates from the 1950s and 60s when styles can best be described as ‘cool’ or funky’.
The most significant departure from traditional styles of furniture came in 1952 when the range of furniture known as ‘G Plan’ was introduced on to the market. This was a range of individual pieces that could be mixed and matched to create a custom look, and could be added to little by little, rather than having to invest a large amount all at once in a complete living room set.
The ‘G Plan’ system soon became extremely popular as it gave buyers more flexibility over buying furniture to suit the size and style of their living spaces and permitted each buyer to customize the look to suit their lifestyle and pocket.
Manufacturers throughout the 1950s and 60s brought out limited ranges of retro furniture at regular intervals, all of which could be used together as consecutive pieces were designed to blend harmoniously with the original range, even though they didn’t actually ‘match’.
The leading producer of retro furniture was Scandinavia which introduced a modern clean look to the American market. Most Scandinavian furniture was made out of pine (also called summa) and this has since become iconistic of retro furniture in general. Another, darker type of wood called tola which was exported from Africa was also hugely popular at this time and came to be extensively used, particularly in the most modern of retro designs.
The late 60s was an era when the disposable trend became fashionable and this is also reflected in retro furniture. Blow-up and cardboard chairs were all the rage for a while, particularly among the younger generation who liked the idea of being able to change their furniture every couple of years or so, rather than being stuck with one style for life.
Despite this brief fashion, many clients in this era still saw the value of investing in good quality, well made furniture that would last well into the future. Many of the retro items that are still in good condition and available today fall into this category and can often be found in charity shops, at car boot and garage sales, weekend markets or gently used furniture stores.
If you think you have found a genuine item from the original ‘G Plan’ range, turn it upside down and if you see a gold or red stamp on its base, you could be right! However, before handing over your hard-earned money it would be advisable to check with an expert to verify that the stamps are, in fact, genuine!