Nan Swid and Addie Powell left Knoll International in 1982 to found SwidPowell Design. They did so with a vision in mind — to create a line of objects for the home concerned with form and function. SwidPowell commissioned international architects to design small-scale, tabletop objects — from porcelain place-settings and formal tea services to silver candlesticks and serving platters. In doing so, SwidPowell enabled architects to experiment in small-scale design and to see their ideas transformed into finished objects.
Soon SwidPowell offered a broad audience such items as Gwathmey-Siegel “Tuxedo” pattern plates and a complete line of various silver items by Richard Meier. Over the next two decades, SwidPowell collaborated with some 45 premier architects, enabling a wide audience to own works from the likes of Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Stephen Holl, Robert A. M. Stern, Stanley Tigerman, and Robert Venturi.
The SwidPowell Collection and Records were gifted to Yale University Art Gallery in 2009. They have become a vital resource for designers, architects and researchers. John Stuart Gordon, the gallery's decorative arts curator, hailed SwidPowell's impact and cultural value: "Its blend of architecture, fashion and decorative arts made it arguably the most important American design undertaking of the 1980s."