Phillip Lloyd Powell is a designer, close to the American Craft Studio. Born in Pennsylvania, like the movement, he is near of the most important representative figures as such Wharton Esherick (1887-1970) and George Nakashima (1905-1990). The nature is everywhere : he has been dived in it since his childhood and has constantly inspired by her throughout his life to create wooden furniture.
Despite studying engineering at the Drexel Institute of Technology, his passion was elsewhere. He had a remarkable gift for woodworking from his childhood so he made some furniture for family and friends. Without any training, his know-how and talent are obvious: he will never train as a designer, but he is a great one.
His commitment to the army during the World War II cut his momentum. So it was not until 1947 that he opened his first showroom in New Hope, Pennsylvania. He only sold furniture from Knoll International, Herman Miller and Isamu Noguchi’s Akari (1904-1988): at that time, he was more an antique dealer than a designer. However, the presence of George Nakashima in New Hope had changed Phillip Lloyd Powell’s life: the master encouraged the young man to create his own furniture.
He went into partnership with designer Paul Evans (1931-1987) between 1950 and 1966, serving a rich association between the two creators. They shared the same love for materials and a common passion for the handwork. He said: “Paul helped me refine my design foundation through his art training and in return I turned his art into furniture.”
Phillip Lloyd Powell travels especially in Europe where he could observe Modernism at its full swing. He designed furniture with a great sensitivity and combined a pure modernism with organic forms. His creations are all perfectly understandable and functional. His design is characterized by strong sculptural vibes, sinuous lines and a precise manufacturing. Sensuality and nature are the keywords to describe Phillip Lloyd Powell’s work : they come from the wood itself and its treatment. When Scandinavian minimalism was in fashion, he turned his approach to a more naturalistic one. He will say: “I am an artist working on furniture.”
Phillip Lloyd Powell chose not to get involved in the industrial furniture business: he continued to create in his native city of New Hope until his death in 2008, on commission or in small production. His designs are quite rare on the market nowadays. Some important museums have his work in their collections, from the American House in New York to the Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center.