PHILLIP LLOYD POWELL

1919-2008
United States

« I am an artist working with furniture. »

• Phillip Lloyd Powell •

Phillip Lloyd Powell is an important member of the American Studio Craft movement in the United States. He is essential and he is the most unique personality in this creative landscape.

He is born in Pennsylvania : this homeland is the chief symbol of the greatest representatives of the American Craftmanship. George Nakashima, the most famous of them and Wharton Esherick, the grandfather of the movement, have settled in this state, in order to get closer to nature and to be inspired by it. Phillip Lloyd Powell has bathed since his childhood. He began engineering studies at the Drexel Institute of Technology. However, as a teenager, he is remarkably gifted with woodworking : so he makes furniture for his family and his friends. Without any training, his dexterity and talent are obvious : he will never be trained as a designer, but he will be a great one.

World War II forces him to join the army. And in 1947, the adventure begins : he opens his first showroom in New Hope (Pennsylvania) but he only sells furniture from Knoll International, Herman Miller and creations by Isamu Noguchi. More dealer than designer, the capital presence in New Hope of George Nakashima in New Hope will change the life of Phillip Lloyd Powell : indeed he encourages his protégé to design his own furniture. The young designer begins to make his own creations in walnut, including lamps. Wood is the favorite material for the American Studio Craft movement, especially this American species, chosen for its graphic and warm properties, and materializing their attachment to local materials.

Phillip Lloyd Powell is a true artist : he is the only one in the movement to understand furniture so sensitively. He mixes a simple modernism with organic forms, thanks to his unique eye.

A major point in his career is his association in 1950 with one of the greatest American designers, Paul Evans : they share love of materials and passion for the handmade work. A fruitful collaboration starts for years. He used to say, « Paul helped me to refine my engineering base designs, as his background was in the arts, and in return I turned his art into furniture. » Paul Evans is known and recognized above all for his work on metal. Phillip Lloyd Powell and Paul Evans combine their double sensitivity : they mix materials like wood, stone, metal, painting, even objects brought back from travels. During this collaboration they continue to create separately, but their four-hand collaboration gives many creations until 1966 : this year they separated permanently to focus entirely on their personal projects.

Then Phillip Lloyd Powell did a tour, especially in Europe, where Modernism was in full swing : his inspiration grew up for sure.

His creations are characterized by a particular attention for readability of function. He combines refined simplicity of Modernism with organic forms of the American Craftmanship. Elegance and sculpturality, sinuous lines and rigorous execution are the hallmarks of his design – as shown in the flying desk in our catalog. A particular sensuality emerges from his creations, coming both from the wood itself but also from its treatment, reminding natural forms.

Phillip Lloyd Powell continued to make furniture in his hometown of New Hope until his death in 2008, and major museums include his works in their collection, such as the America House in New York or the Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center, and many more •

CATALOG :

Flying desk

PHILLIP LLOYD POWELL1955