By Dieneke Ferguson, updated 24 January 2020
Vitamin's Gnomes are the alternative to the traditional garden gnome - it is the "must-have" gnome for the modern consumer. The original gnome comes in a range of cool black graphical designs. The gnome stands 21cm high. There are 24 to choose from, including for Valentine's.
Vitamin was set up by brothers Chris and Andy Vernall in 2004. Their mission is to produce designs which are more than just a little out of the ordinary. This definitely includes their Gnomes. First came the Urban Gnome in 2005, which were hailed as the alternative to the traditional garden gnome and the ‘must-have’ gnome for the modern consumer. Even Katy Perry bought two of them.
Made in the UK from bone china, they are sleek and simple and a blank canvas for the 12 designs making it a characterful addition for any home. The original gnomes have names such as Heart,Ants, Bamboo, Dandelion, Dragon, Eskimo, Scatter, Skull, Undergrowth, Wallpaper, Wings and Zip. Urban Gnome Heart by Vitamin.
Urban Gnomes - Street Style
In 2008 at 100% Design Vitamin launched the Urban Gnomes – Street Style. These 12 gnomes are decorated with designs "inspired by London's wide-ranging expanse of street art".
Different techniques have been used to create the new range, from stenciling and doodling to graffiti wildstyle.
Urban Gnome Street Style - Avian Invasion by Vitamin. 2008
“Avian Invasion” is a montage of pop-art style designs, showing a bird skull being attacked by two black crows.
The detailed doodles of “Bad Drip” feature a world of characters that merge into one another culminating in a black drip spilling out onto the blank canvas and a gang of creatures hanging around the base.
“Cogsy “ is the mischievous robot with spraycan in hand. Urban Gnome Street Style - Cogsy by Vitamin. 2008
“Grime Watch” features a CCTV camera with the skull eyes at watch “Monster Lunch” brings a cartoon style to the collection with its big greedy green mouth and long reaching tongue. “Pollinate” has a retro look with its curved lines and bold black and orange colours. The theme of nature comes through with the stylized waves and intertwining of abstract flowers with creatures.
Urban Gnome Street Style - Pollinate by Vitamin. 2008
Siege City” shows Godzilla, King Kong, a zebra and a sea serpent all encroaching into the lively and buzzing metropolis .
“Vandal” raises the ongoing question of who the criminal is - the one making the graffiti or clearing it away. In the graffiti of “Vandal” when you look closely you can see the full range of Street designs cleverly combined.
“Wildstyle” comes in three striking colours, green, pink and orange and the dripping paint effect gives that ‘just-sprayed’ look. This classic graffiti style incorporates interwoven and overlapping letters and shapes.
Urban Gnome Street Style - Wildstyle by Vitamin. 2008
Their gnomes as the gnome Stools from Philippe Starcke (2000, Attila, Napoleon and Saint Esprit) are the 21 century answer to the historical garden gnome – they have striking originality and anti-conformism .
History of the Garden Gnome
The garden gnomes originate in Germany and were believed to bring luck if placed in a house or garden. It appears that the first garden gnome spotted in the UK is in the garden of Charles Isham at Lamport Hall in Northamptonshire who by the 1870s had a series of gnome tableaux in among his giant rock garden. In the first decade of the 20th Century gnomes became popular and high status features of country house gardens and even appeared on stands at the 1912 International Horticultural Exhibition - precursor to modern day Chelsea show.
With the outbreak of World War I the reputation of the Germanic gnome plummeted. It was left to Disney to revive the fashion with their hit animation film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. So came the heyday of the traditional concrete garden gnome.
After the Second World War, Garden Gnomes became popular with people in the UK who had gardens and a little bit of money, who perhaps wanted to inject some interest and garden fun into their surroundings. The character or aesthetics of the garden gnome developed during the 1960s and 70s when they were manufactured in plastic; inspired by the seven dwarves in the Snow White film and then strengthened by the book 'Gnomes' by Wil Huygen and Rien Poortvliet, first published in Dutch in 1976.
Banned from the Chelsea Flower Show Later gnomes became controversial in serious gardening circles in the United Kingdom, and were banned from the prestigious Chelsea Flower Show as the organizers claim that they detract from the garden designs. Gnome enthusiasts accuse the organizers of snobbery because gnome figures are popular in working class and suburban gardens.
However they were allowed in during the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show when celebrities were invited to paint and decorate gnomes to feature at the show, before auctioning them online to raise funds for the RHS Campaign for School Gardening. Urban Gnome Undergrowth by Vitamin, 2004
If you want to own a Vitamin Gnome you can buy them here