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.
In the early 1960s, British furniture manufacturer G-Plan set the standard for modernist, mass-market furniture in postwar Britain. In order to compete with imported Scandinavian furniture, G-Plan hired Danish designer Ib Kofod-Larsen (1921-2003) - who created a number of designs for the company. 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 Coffe 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 catalogs.
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. Today, the Astro coffee table is among Wilkins’ most collectable design; with the more plentiful - but equally elegant - vintage Fresco cabinets and sideboards also in demand.