The prolific designer, who just spoke at this year’s edition of Design London, sat down with ICON to give us a glimpse into her world
Photography by Tommaso Sartori featuring the new Almendra lamp designed by Patricia Urquiola for Flos
ICON: How has your experience working with such a vast range of brands, from the likes of Glas Italia to Cassina to Flos, shaped your design principles?
Patricia Urquiola: Design is a continuous process, a never-ending learning curve. As the Swiss art curator and critic Hans Ulrich Obrist says, ‘we are all toolboxes for others’. Therefore, we can grow as much as we are able to give to others as much or even more of what we receive.
It is a technical discipline as much as humanistic. You cannot specialise in all the discipline needed, but you can train to understand a new technology or a new sector very fast. Uniting the dots of the social, empathic, aesthetic, ethic impact of a project.
ICON: Was there a defining moment in your life or career when you knew you wanted to become a designer?
Patricia Urquiola: I knew I wanted to become an architect since I was a child. When I came to Milan and encountered great designers at the Polytechnic University of Milan, I knew I wanted to become a designer. Studying with Achille Castiglioni was an eye-opener.
Photography by Nicola Carignani featuring Patricia Urquiola
ICON: How do you continue developing your passion for design and what you do?
Patricia Urquiola: An instinctive curiosity linked with a passion for observation. For everything that is around me or far from me. With no prejudices toward beauty or ugliness. I’m interested in the same way to what works, but could work better as much as to what is not working and might need a solution or an evolution.
ICON: What excites you about a new design project?
Patricia Urquiola: To see things from a different perspective. To find a solution to something that seemed unsolvable. To push my limits as much as the ones of my clients.
ICON: Among the people you’ve worked with along the way who have you admired the most and why?
Patricia Urquiola: Vico Magistretti and Achille Castiglioni. They were able to find their selves. To be coherent with themselves and follow the best path.
Without giving too much importance to what they were doing. At the end of the day we are not saving lives, we are just trying to make everyday life a little bit better.
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