Patricia Urquiola Hidalgo was born in Oviedo, Spanish Asturias, in 1961,
from a family of Basque origins. The matrix of the figurative and material culture of his homeland will be strongly present in his work; but it is in Italy that this matures its form, starting from the period of studies. Urquiola began her career as an architect, studying first at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, then moving to the Milan Polytechnic where in 1989 she graduated with Achille Castiglioni. It is he who directs it from architecture to the field of product design, and Urquiola declares from him that he has inherited an approach to design by analogy, where object calls object, one object is born from the interpretation of another.
“ PATRICIA URQUIOLA + SPANISH ARCHITECT AND DESIGNER ”
The career of the Spanish designer then develops in the Italian context, first as an assistant to Castiglioni and Eugenio Bottinelli in Milan and Paris (1990-92), then in the development of new products for De Padova
with Vico Magistretti - another informative experience for her, in the Milanese master's approach to attention to all the madmen of the creative project, and all levels of the conception of an object. Since 1996 he has been in the design group of Lissoni Associati with Magistretti, to then open his independent studio in 2001. From there it operates in different fields of design: the heart of the activities is product design but also interior design and architecture gain an increasingly relevant space among the creations. In the field of product, the home is the place to which Urquiola's design is aimed, where those principles of design are experimented by analogy as well as the recovery of traditional techniques and materials with a view to their innovative reinterpretation.
The materials, types and brands with which it compares are the most different: from the glass of the vases for Baccarat (Variations, 2012) or of the Shimmer table for Glas Italia (2014), to the terracotta for Mutina - in a long collaboration from which they are born the iconic Azulej collection (2012) and that of the modular bas-reliefs of the Tierras (2014); from fabrics to plastics; from handles, bathroom elements and table objects to his most famous production of seats and sofas. Here the research opens up to a further multiplicity of approaches, including the comback chairs by Kartell (2010), the Antibodi chaise longue for Moroso 2006 with his work on the turned up covering modules, the reinterpretations of the weaves in the Objets Nomades for Louis Vuitton (2018 ) as in the Anatra collection for Janus et cie. (2019); up to the sofas for B&B Italia
conceived as combinations of cushions such as the Tufty Time of 2005 and the Bend Sofa of 2010. One of his most relevant collaborations is then with Cassina, of which she becomes artistic director in 2015. Among other brands for which she has made products include Alessi, Axor-Hansgrohe, Boffi, Driade, Flos, Gan, Kettal, Kvadrat, Molteni, Rosenthal.
His products are also exhibited in permanent collections around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, the Museum of Design in Zurich, the Vitra Design Museum in Basel, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Stedelijk in Amsterdam and the Triennale Museum in Milan. In her gradual expansion, her activity has also earned her many awards including the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes and the Order of Isabella la Cattolica in Spain (2011), and her activity as a teacher and lecturer at Domus Academy, Harvard University and Milan Polytechnic. This return, through an expansion of the field of design, to the scale of architecture is mediated by different levels of research. Urquiola first conceived different furnishing systems at the scale of the entire environment (such as the 2015 Salinas kitchen
) and directly extended the design from the single object to the integrated living space, as in the case of his bathroom studies created for Axor-Hansgrohe in 2008. Another intermediate place of the project explored by Urquiola is that of the set-up, from the various ones for brands in both commercial and curatorial destination (fairs and events such as the Milan Design Weeks) to that of entire exhibitions, such as Ferrari: Under the Skin at the Design Museum in London for the 70th anniversary of the Casa di Maranello, or the exhibition dedicated to his master Achille Castiglioni (A Castiglioni, Milan Triennale, 2018).