Four-piece place setting, "Grandmother" pattern Designer: Robert Venturi (American, 1925–2018)
Retailer: Swid Powell (American, 1982–2001)

ca. 1986

American Decorative Arts

Over the course of their careers, the husband-and-wife architects Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown reveled in source materials that others might dismiss as mundane or unsophisticated. The decoration of these plates, which Venturi produced for the housewares firm Swid Powell, was inspired by a floral tablecloth owned by a colleague’s grandmother. Venturi and Scott Brown saw the pattern’s profusion of roses in soft, pastel colors as both old-fashioned and cloyingly sweet. They recreated the floral print and overlaid it with a grid of hatch marks taken from a painting by Jasper Johns. The resulting Grandmother pattern is a quintessential postmodern product that blends elements of kitsch with high art, the familiar with the avant-garde. Venturi and Scott Brown used Grandmother as a textile in collaboration with Philadelphia’s Fabric Workshop (now the Fabric Workshop and Museum), on furniture for Knoll, and on dishes by Swid Powell. These plates are from a later version of Grandmother, which was originally released in 1984.


Porcelain with overglaze transfer-printed decoration


Buffet plate: 12 in. (30.48 cm)

Credit Line

Swid Powell Collection, Gift of Nan Swid

Accession Number



20th century


Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of records is ongoing.



Swid Powell, New York, by 2001; Nan G. Swid, New York, 2001–2011; Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 2011
  • American Art: Selections from the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2023), 33, 276–77, no. 137, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

place settings


On underside in black: (c) Swid Powell / VENTURI / SCOTT BROWN [and logo] / "Grandmother"

Technical metadata and APIs


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