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Meet Roy Otwell of Switch Modern in Midtown West

Today we’d like to introduce you to Roy Otwell.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My business partner and I, longtime design-obsessed friends, opened as Poliform Atlanta over 15 years ago. We felt that offering excellent service, original contemporary design and superb quality goods- all responsibly produced – was destined to be a hit. Indeed, we were immediately embraced as the Southeast’s destination for clean, contemporary kitchens, closet systems, beds and casegoods. Within a year or two, we answered the call for more products lines that include lighting, upholstered goods, outdoor furniture and home accessories. Today, Switch Modern, housed in a 25,000-sq. ft. showroom in Atlanta’s “Midtown West” district, sells only the finest contemporary designs from Italy, Austria, Scandinavia, Japan, et al… even from the USA! Our online store,, offers a catalog of our products, sliced by name or type and complete with the ability to produce tear sheets and to learn about the designers associated with the products. We are fortunate to have clients – both end-users and design professionals – from all over North America. We also have a Contract Department that works closely with those design professionals working on projects ranging from offices to hotels to universities.

Has it been a smooth road?
Like most important endeavors, ours has been one with highs and lows. We were fortunate to get a strong endorsement from the market at the outset. This let us know that we were onto something. Then, just a few short years after opening – while ramping up, exploring new products and learning the market, the recession hit. This was truly a low for most any business but especially for those of us in retail. We stuck it out and stayed open, ever hopeful that the economy would rebound in short order. This was a long, dark period but thankfully, we used this time to add home accessories to our mix and we began work on our eCommerce website. It turns out that this was a life saver. While retail remains challenging in this ever changing environment, we now have a strong foundation on which to keep building, morphing and growing. The gift from our business is that we are able to work and survive in a field about which we are passionate. We are surrounded by creativity and design, we travel extensively and we never stop learning.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Switch Modern – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Switch Modern is a brick & mortar retail home furnishings store located in Atlanta’s MIdtown West district. Switch Modern and its online e-Commerce component specialize in contemporary, luxury home furnishings. Our customers are both end users and design trade professionals. In addition to Italian kitchens and closet systems by Poliform, the top products include a full spectrum of upholstered and casegoods from sofas and sectionals to beds and credenzas. Lighting, outdoor furniture and home accessories round out the wide assortment of products from over sixty manufacturers and from over a dozen countries. Flexform, Walter K, Giorgetti, Fritz Hansen, ClassiCon, Wittmann, Flos, Stickbulb, Bocci, CVL Lighting, Paola Lenti, Gandia Blasco, Alessi and Kartell are chief among the many lines represented.

The owners’ passion for design and commitment to service set Switch Modern apart. The owners and the staff are well trained in every aspect of product design and manufacturing, a fact that helps any customer navigate the complexities of specifying and ordering high-end, customizable goods.

As one of the owners, I am most proud of our staff and its commitment to excellence. I am also very proud of the manufacturers and designers represented at Switch Modern. We offer the best of the best original designs from 1900 through the present. Our products offer a compendium of contemporary design. Few showrooms in existence today offer a similar array of important design pieces.

Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
Atlanta is the very definition of dynamism. It is constantly growing and morphing – in its own unique way – into an important center for commerce, design, food and the arts. The changes in just the last two decades alone are hard to fathom. Our district, Midtown West, seems to exemplify this phenomenon. Out of nowhere rises this bustling neighborhood with its own distinctive flavor full of design shops, a wide array of good food establishments and new living spaces both traditional and avantgarde. The neighborhoods of Atlanta when considered all together seem to yield a rich, exotic gumbo of sorts. Completely different lifestyles separated only by a road, a highway, a river or even a thicket of trees. There is truly something for everyone.

Traffic! Sometimes it seems Atlanta is choking on its own success. NIMBY attitudes and the vestiges of racism continue to influence growth and transportation. The tri-county vs city politics only complicates matters with no solution in sight.

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Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.



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