Don’t let the mirror shine or diminutive footprint fool you, this Swid Powell bowl holds multitudes beneath its silver surface. While far from an underdog enterprise – Nan Swid and Addie Powell were a design director and sales executive, high-up at Knoll in the early 1980s – it nevertheless feels relevant to highlight their contributions today: a pair of women in a male-dominated field who used style and business savvy to scale the grandiose gestures of postmodernism down to their most practical application.
The early stirrings of the movement had already introduced the idea that cabinets could look like skyscrapers, so it was hardly a stretch of the imagination that the landscape of the dinner table could take on the characteristics of a city skyline. Collaborating with heavy hitters like Zaha Hadid, Robert Venturi, Richard Meier (who is behind the design of this bowl), and Arata Isozaki, Swid and Powell introduced these handheld wonders with architectural flair. As the form vs. function wars raged on, these small soldiers snuck quietly across the front lines — tasteful afterthoughts for those who already had Venturi chairs around the table and within reach (though still a splurge) for more budget-conscious design lovers.