Last year, G Plan Upholstery unveiled G Plan Vintage. Inspired by the company’s furniture from the 50s and 60s, the new collection brings a modern twist to the vintage styles currently enjoying a renaissance. It has been designed in collaboration with Tilly Hemingway, daughter of the Red or Dead founder Wayne Hemingway, and his acclaimed team at Hemingway Design. Furniture News asked Tilly to explain how she went about the process …

Have you worked with any furniture brands previously?
Hemingway Design have worked with furniture manufacturers in producing bespoke pieces for projects such as the Institute of Directors (IOD) and Boscombe Overstrand, as well as furniture for both the Hemingway home and office space. We also have a selection of outdoor furniture available from John Lewis. However, this is our first full range of upholstered furniture available to the public.

What knowledge/creativity do you feel you brought to the G Plan project?
All of the Hemingway Design team are lovers and collectors of mid-century modern furniture. We also have a fantastic collection of mid-century furniture catalogues, featuring many G Plan models, which were a great inspiration when designing the range. It was quite important that the sofas were not just exact copies of those created in the 1950s and 60s – incorporating the signature Hemingway Design colour palette and prints has, we feel, added a modern angle to the collection.

“It was quite important that the sofas were not just exact copies of those created in the 1950s and 60s – incorporating the signature Hemingway Design colour palette and prints has, we feel, added a modern angle to the collection”

What was your original brief, and how did you approach the research based on it?
The original brief was to re-interpret the brand’s rich history for a new generation of modernists. In creating such a range, we delved deep into G Plan’s stunning archive, as well as taking inspiration from pieces from our own collection of mid-century modern furniture and furniture catalogues.

Were there any particular findings/revelations that came from the research?
Our research only confirmed our beliefs that G Plan have an incredibly rich history that should celebrated and re-interpreted for today’s consumer.

Describe your work alongside the other developers of the range as it progressed
We have worked very closely with G Plan throughout the entire process – from developing the initial design drawings, to selecting the fabrics and wood finishes, and getting the final product on the shop floor in John Lewis. Being able to sample and manufacture in the UK, develop custom prints, work with high quality materials, and for the collection to be sold in John Lewis in its first season, has been a bit of a dream come true.

Which elements of the final products would you say you’re responsible for?
We have worked in total collaboration on all aspects of the collection, including shape/form, choice of upholstery material, colour palette, logo design and marketing materials. The prints that feature on the scatter cushions are also from Hemingway Designs’ extensive print archive.

“G Plan came to prominence in a golden era of British design, that emerged and developed from the 1951 Festival of Britain. This era – of mid-century modern design – is now inspiring a whole generation of young designers once more”

What wider vintage offering does John Lewis already offer?
In 2011, John Lewis launched a range of furniture from eminent design houses, showcasing both design classics and modern-day British furniture design. This range includes designs from Vitra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Terence Conran. We are thrilled to have the G Plan Vintage range sitting amongst these classic mid-century brands.

Has Great British spirit helped fuel the vintage movement this year?
Most definitely. G Plan came to prominence in a golden era of British design, that emerged and developed from the 1951 Festival of Britain. This era – of mid-century modern design – is now inspiring a whole generation of young designers once more.

What is your next project?
We are currently working on our second range of sofas with G Plan, which will hit shop floors in 2013, and we are looking to work with a manufacturer on a cabinet/table/storage range that we have in mind. Watch this space.

Tilly Hemingway works at Hemingway Design, and was the lead designer on the G Plan Vintage project, in which five models were created exclusively for John Lewis. Article originally published in Furniture News, issue 283.