A Pennsylvania native, Philip Lloyd Powell taught himself the basics of woodworking at a young age, building custom furniture for family and friends.
After years of dreaming and planning (and a stint as a weather forecaster in the Army Air Corps during WWII), Powell bought an acre of land in the artists’ haven of New Hope in 1947, built his own house, and caught the attention of his neighbor - none other than George Nakashima - who encouraged him to expand his efforts.
Powell began to design his idiosyncratic furniture, establishing a showroom in 1953 before sharing a studio and collaborating with contemporary designer Paul Evans from 1955-1966.
His unusual designs often flew in the face of the sleek lines associated with the Mid-Century Modern period during which he worked. Eschewing the practices of mass production, Powell favored a measured pace and often employed meticulous hand work, even incorporating found materials of both the natural and manmade variety (his obituary mentions a cabinet into which he inserted “an entire oil painting he had picked up in Europe”).
Owing to his practices, Powell was not particularly prolific and his works are highly prized by collectors; it is believed that he produced less than a thousand in his lifetime.