For the last two decades Patricia Urquiola has been designing interiors, objects and buildings with her unique blend of formality and vibrancy.
Born in Spain and based in Milan, designer Patricia Urquiola has a style that is hard to describe. Since opening her own studio in 2001, she has worked with numerous prominent designers and design companies across the world. Her playful and elegant designs have earned her many awards.
Urquiola studied at the school of architecture at the Madrid Polytechnic, before attending the Milan Polytechnic under the tutorship of Achille Castiglioni and Eugenio Bettini. After she graduated in 1989 she worked with both as an assistant lecturer in Paris and Milan. In an interview with Icon in 2018, Urquiola explained how important her relationship with Castiglioni was in her early career, describing him as more of a mentor than a teacher.
In the 1990s Urquiola worked with two more iconic Italian designers, Vico Magisteretti and Piero Lissoni, as well as spending six years as the head of the new product development office of Milanese furniture brand de Padova. She has also developed a longstanding collaborative partnership with Patrizia Moroso, art director of the family-run furniture manufacturer Moroso. In 2001 Urquiola set up a studio in her own name.
Urquiola’s work spans product design, installations, interiors and architecture. She creates unique and recognisable pieces by combining a certain amount of formalism and elegance with surprising shapes or colours and a sense of playfulness. Her work is always practical and functional, but never restricted to only fulfilling its purpose.
Her most notable large-scale projects include the Jewel in Vicenza, the Das Stue Hotel in Berlin and the Spa of the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan. Urquiola also provided the full interior design of the Madarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona. Completed in 2010, it was the first major international hotel to open in the city since the 1992 Olympic Games.
The Madarin Oriental has 98 rooms and one vast luxury suite. It sits on the the popular Passeig de Garcia in the city's central Eixample district, and includes a large and luxurious spa and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views fo the city. Inside, Urquiola created a masterpiece of contemporary design with 3D textured walls and a dark, patterned pathway that guides hotel guests through the building. Furniture in the hotel is a mix of custom pieces by Urquiola herself as well as pieces from from her Axor bathroom collection. There are also contributions from other major designers from Spain and Italy.
The reception area is designed to feel like a living room, encouraging guests to immediately feel relaxed. This creation of comfort carries through all the communal areas in the hotels. The hotel features one enormous 236-square-metre suite, designed as though it were a private apartment. For this room Urquiola used materials such as leather, velvet and silk alongside wooden textures and a palette of dark greens and greys to create a feeling of luxury. The suite features a private elevator and 24-hour butler service.
Throughout her career, Urquiola has been sought after by Europe’s top brands, and has created collections and installations for many prominent manufacturers, including Alessi, Kartell, Boffi, Kvadrat, Hermes, Moroso, B&B Italia, Louis Vuitton, Cappellini and Rosenthal.
Her work is included in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Moma in New York, Musee des Arts decorations in Paris, The Design Museum in London, the Stedelijk in Amsterdam and the Museo della Triennale in Milan. She has also been featured as the subject of an exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Uquiola has won several major international design prizes and awards, including the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes (Gold Medal in Fine Arts) awarded by the Spanish Government and the Order of Isabella the Catholic, awarded by His Majesty The King of Spain Juan Carlos I. She has also been named Designer of the decade by German magazines Home and Häuser and has been nominated as Designer of the Year for Wallpaper, Ad Spain, Elle Decor International and Architektur und Wohnen Magazine.