Earthquake 5.9: Furniture Born From the Rubble

Heike Söns

Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola turns the debris from a devastating earthquake into genuine works of art for the Italian firm Budri, a collection of tables and accessories overflowing with imagination.


On May 29, 2012, an earthquake measuring 5.9 degrees on the Richter scale struck the region of Emilia, in northeastern Italy. The event left its mark all over town ravaged many buildings in the region; including the headquarters of the design house Budri, which were located near the epicenter. The Budri building contained one of the Old Continent’s largest and most striking collections of marble and stone (onyx, lapis lazuli and amethyst).


The outlook was bleak during the morning of the earthquake, and everyone thought everything was lost. However, the scattered debris became the raw material for one of the most amazing and lively collections from Budri. Two years after the tremor, and with the title 5.9 Earthquake, this collection was unveiled at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the global benchmark for home furnishings. More on design, architecture and furniture.

Patricia Urquiola.

Earthquake 5.9 is much more than the remembrance of a tragedy; it represents the virtues of rescue and rebirth. The talented Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola was in charge of the concept and design. She had been working with the firm since 2010, and not knowing what to expect, she called the Budri offices the morning of the earthquake concerned about the tragedy.

The damage was significant and many of the materials in the Budri collection had virtually become rubble. “We will create a project with all these tiles, we will give a new life to all the pieces that were destroyed,” said Urquiola.


After months of hard work planning, designing, collecting and restoring, Urquiola has delivered a collection of tables and accessories that overflows with inspiration and creativity, and whose historical importance adds immeasurable value.

In a meaningful and touching way, the designer chose wood for the structure of the tables, as if the earthquake-resistant quality of this material could transfer its natural power to the company itself. The bright furniture finishes are historical puzzles created with hundreds of fragments of stones recovered and restored to their original splendor. The result is a collection full of light, new beginnings, a design that reminds us of the feminine in nature, fragile and at the same time, extremely solid and stable.


The Earthquake 5.9 collection was designed to be completely sustainable and with minimal material waste. The remaining stone fragments were also refurbished by Urquiola to make a series of accessories, such as vases and shelves, inspired by the stone’s natural shapes and the Japanese art of origami.


The relationship between Budri and Urquiola has always favored creativity, generosity and sustainability. Another of their major projects, entitled Marblelace, is a representation of lace made with overlapping marble pieces, definitely a true work of art.

© | 2019