Written by 3:22 pm The Makers

At a Fork in the Road, Take Both Paths: Patricia Urquiola

A self-proclaimed eclectic, varied and diverse designer, Patricia Urquiola aspires to the highest s…
Headshot of a woman in an off-green shirt against a blue background
Patricia Urquiola, Photo by Massimiliano Sticc

Perpetually curious, technically masterful and humanistic in intention, Patricia Urquiola’s design journey began when she left her home in Oviedo, Spain, at 22 years old. While the Asturias-born designer had every intention to pursue a career in the field of architecture, it was the early and influential mentorship of FLOS’ Achille Castiglioni that forever altered Urquiola’s path by encouraging her to look toward to the broader world of design.  

From Student to Master 

After leaving the Universidad Politecnica de Madrid to begin her studies at Politecnico di Milano, Urquiola quickly found an advisor—and soon after, a collaborator—in Castiglioni. An assistant to the prolific Italian designer as well as Eugenio Bottinelli between 1990 and 1992, Urquiola would go on to work alongside Vico Magistretti, Maddalena de Padova and other renowned European makers before founding her own design studio in 2001.  

Centering the human experience, a willingness to experiment and expert craftsmanship in her design practice, Urquiola’s diverse portfolio stands as a testament to the designer’s brilliantly complex and empathetic mind. Whether creating imaginative lighting designs, a dimensionally pristine piece of furniture, a richly detailed textile or even showrooms and hospitality spaces that reflect her early passion for architecture, Urquiola begins each project with the same question her mentor would ask: How will people and spaces interact with this thing I am creating?  

Almendra for FLOS 

Purple, nude and black pendants hanging from a string against a maroon concrete wall
Almendra LED Linear Suspension by Patricia Urquiola for FLOS

Inspired by colors found in nature—specifically the almond tree, from where the fixture found its name, Almendra is Urquiola’s latest sustainable, modular lighting system created for FLOS. With a scientific eye, Urquiola took the very organism of an almond, considering its colors, its shell, and all parts of the tree from which it grows, and reinterpreted the natural object as a technologically advanced and mechanical luminaire that retains its poetic simplicity.  

Caboche for Foscarini  

Granite-walled bathroom scene with a blown glass chandelier pendant between two mirrors
Caboche Pendant by Patricia Urquiola + Eliana Gerotto for Foscarini

A collaboration between Urquiola and Eliana Gerotto, Caboche is named after a jewelry technique applied to a shaped and polished stone. Combining technology with a singular creativity, the Caboche collection transforms light through a series of spherical acrylic facets to reflect a sparkling glow.   

Comback Chair for Kartell 

Outdoor dining scene with white furniture beneath a large tree
Comback Chair by Patricia Urquiola for Kartell

Looking toward history for her inspiration, the Comback design is Urquiola’s reinterpretation of an 18th century Windsor chair. Updating the piece for a contemporary era, Comback is made of technopolymer thermoplastic and its many bright colors offer a sense of whimsy to an otherwise historically traditional design. Reflecting Urquiola’s humanistic lens when creating a new piece, the Comback chair is an ergonomically advanced design combining technical expertise with a forward-thinking sensibility.   

The Bandas Collection for Gan Rugs  

Multicolored rugs in a living space complete with furniture and coffee table with 6 windows in the background
Bandas Rug by Patricia Urquiola for Gan Rugs

An extensive collection of coordinated rugs, the Bandas collection is an interchangeable, modular system that can seamlessly adapt to the needs of users and interior spaces. Exploring her interest in traditional textile techniques, the highly geometrical collection features oversized stitching on long but thin wool rugs, each sewn to the same width for maximum modularity and personalization.   

From collaborations with Alessi, FLOS, Kartell, B&B Italia and many more to designing the honorary exhibition showroom dedicated to her mentor Castiglioni, and even dipping her toes into the world of fashion design, Urquiola refuses to relegate herself to a single design discipline. With a wealth of experience and inspiration, the prolific designer is well-positioned to take on the place of her own mentor, inspiring up-and-coming makers around the world to take a curious look at their surroundings, the past, present and future, and find the designs, techniques and technologies that have yet to be explored.  

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