Most people don't know of Paul Evans' imaginative showroom partner and collaborator, Phillip Lloyd Powell (1919-2008). Powell was a trained engineer and a self taught woodworker in New Hope, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Part of the American Studio Movement, he hand-crafted sculptural wooden furniture, many on a large scale.
After working in Great Britain for the Army Air Corps., Powell settled in New Hope, Pennsylvania to establish his woodworking studio in 1947. He found New Hope to be a quiet riverside community and home to many artists and authors. Both James A. Michener and Aaron Burr were residents of the artistic and academic town. George Nakashima and Wharton Esherick, both of whom inspired Powell, had established woodworking studios in New Hope.
Powell's crafted wooden lamps and tables were well received, especially by the Saturday night Bucks County Playhouse crowd. His shop produced enough sales on Saturday evenings, he would not have to open for the following week.
In 1955 Powell opened a showroom with metal worker Paul Evans. The two collaborated on the production of works such as sculpted walnut cabinets with metal forged hardware, tables and screens. Powell shared the ideas and Evans provided a more artful approach to the designs. The two exhibited their works alongside George Nakashima, Sam Maloof and Wharton Esherick in a Museum of Contemporary Craft exhibition.
One of their more popular collaborations, walnut with pewter inlay table pieces, sold through their showroom and department stores. The collection of decanters, pepper mills and chargers sold through Lord and Taylor throughout the late 1950's. After more than a decade, their showroom closed in 1966.
After the closing of their showroom, Powell traveled more extensively and continued collecting objects and artifacts. He would incorporate the found objects into his organic and textural forms. His travels through Sicily, England, Morocco, Japan, Spain and India inspired his later more expressive carvings.
In 2009, The James A. Michener Art Museum acquired and permanently installed Phillip Lloyd Powell's twelve-foot high painted and carved Door. Powell crafted the Door for the Craftsman 67 exhibition and later installed it in his home, which was later demolished.
~Phillip Lloyd Powell Door, James A. Michener Art Museum
~Phillip Lloyd Powell, New Hope, PA. Courtesy of John Gehri Zerrer Builder
Today Powell's sculptural furniture designs can be found in some of the most important private collections across the globe.
—Posted June 04, 2019
Born in 1919, Phillip Lloyd Powell was a self-taught furniture maker. Mr. Powell’s work is often described as midcentury modern although it routinely transcended the clean aesthetics of the style . His sinuous, textural furniture, which he painstakingly hand-carved from gleaming woods, recalled forms from the natural world. Lloyd Powell studied mechanical engineering at Drexel Institute of Technology in Philadelphia and meteorology at Chanute Air Force Base in Rantoul, IL.
The combination of these wood working and engineering skills is evident in his work. After serving during World War II, Powell settled in New Hope, Pennsylvania, attracted by the local artists community. He began selling his work in the early 1950s from his shop, a studio Powell shared for over a decade, with Paul Evans the designer and metal smith. The two worked together on several pieces. Powell soon gained a reputation for making strikingly modern pieces. Perhaps his most recognizable works are his cabinets. There are thought to be less than 1,000 pieces in existence.