Patricia Urquiola, Architect and Designer For Major Brands

Montserrat Barba

After more than 30 years creating spaces, objects, and furniture, the Spanish designer works with the leading brands in the world and her work is part of the MoMA collection in New York City.

In every corner of the world, there is evidence of the talent of architect and designer Patricia Urquiola (Oviedo, Spain, 1961). She has created projects as varied as the Missoni stores in Hong Kong and New Delhi, the rehabilitation of the Das Stue Hotel in Berlin and the Jewelry Museum of Vicenza.

Patricia Urquiola
Patricia Urquiola

However, it is her furniture design, that has brought her more popularity thanks to her pieces for Kartell, Moroso, B & B, Alessi and other important Italian firms. Her lamps, tableware, and pop chairs have an avant-garde style deeply rooted in memory. Her furniture pieces, like her environs, always have a story to tell. For example, Urquiola has regressed to the 18th century to rethink the Windsor Chair, which was manufactured by hand, and turned it into the industrial Comback Chair and Nub Chair series. And she has recovered the hydraulic tiles of Mediterranean tradition to decorate the suites at new Mandarin Oriental hotel in Barcelona, one of her most recent projects.

Patricia Urquiola
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Barcelona

With remarkable mastery of shapes, color and materials, she was personally involved in the Earthquake 5.9 collection after the 2012 earthquake in northwestern Italy.

Patricia Urquiola resides in Milan, where she runs her own studio since 2001, after having collaborated with some of her idols: Achille Castiglione and Vico Magistretti. At the age of thirteen, her vocation was already clear to her. “As a child, I wanted to be an architect and studied architecture in Madrid, but when I attended the Castiglioni course at the Polytechnic University of Milan, I fell in love with design. I was interested in working with tools that we could use every day, “she explains.

When choosing her favorite job, her passion for Italian culture arises: “Each project is exciting because you start from the beginning, without certainty or protection. I really enjoyed working on the scenery for the classic Monteverdi opera The Coronation of Poppea (2010). I had to work closely with excellent singers who interacted with the stage.” Working at various scales—large spaces, small objects— she is forced to “see how things work from different perspectives.”

“When I’m involved in an architectural project, being a designer allows me to move my vision throughout the entire process. Thanks to my experience I have the necessary credibility to propose my products. And when I’m designing, customers ask me to create their facilities or private homes,” says Urquiola, who received the Gold Medal for Merit in Fine Arts from the Government of Spain in 2010, as well as other honors such as Designer of the Decade, by the Häuser magazine in 2009, or the AD Architecture Design Award by Architectural Digest in 2008.

Patricia Urquiola

In addition, her work was part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York, the Museo Della Triennale of Milan and the Fonds National d’Art Contemporain in Paris.

Urquiola also designs for BMW, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Baccarat, among other clients. “I hate to have a recognizable style, one which is above the product itself. Each designer brings forth different creations each time, and they have their own identity and values,” says the architect.

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