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Throwback Thursday: Iconic Designer Turns Manufacturer

Retailer, designer, manufacturer: William Switzer was a triple threat.

As we prepare for our Designers of the Year Awards, we look back at some incredible designers that we have featured in the past. Today, we look at the iconic designer, furniture salesman and manufacturer William Switzer.

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When we originally talked to William in 1987, he had recently taken the design world by storm by leaving his well-established profession as an interior designer to become a full time manufacturer and retailer—re-establishing the hands-on relationship that he had with furniture starting 50 years prior. Switzer grew up helping his parents in the furniture shop they owned in Calgary, so it is only fitting that he made the full circle from retailer to designer to manufacturer.

I did miss designing to begin with, but I don’t anymore. I just work with all these other great designers. I like what I’m doing.

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A prominent home transformed by Switzer: black walls, white wood, a sixteenth-century iron table and rich fabrics.

Switzer was so well known in the business that Robert Ledingham, who has a DOTY award named after him, couldn’t help but praise his manner: “I think Bill’s a great humanitarian kind of person. He’s been a solid friend to a lot of designers. He has a very optimistic outlook on life.” He was the type of guy to help out a competitor if they were having a rough time, and he enjoyed surrounding himself with a team of designers with talent and drive for the business.

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