For our series about influential women in design, we're focusing this week on Patricia Urquiola, the Spanish designer who is one of the most influential figures in the world of contemporary design. Her designs are playful, colorful, innovative, and sometimes a little bit irreverent, and she's working to redefine the look of the contemporary home.
Patricia Urquiola was born in Oviedo, Spain, in 1961. She wanted to be a designer from a young age, and studied architecture at the Madrid Polytechnic. From there she went on to the Milan Polytechnic, where she completed her graduate thesis under the direction of Achille Castiglioni (an accomplished Italian designer whom you may know as the creator of the Arco Lamp).
From 1990 to 1996, Patricia worked as an assistant lecturer to both Achille Castiglioni and Eugenio Bettinelli at the Milan Polytechnic and E.N.S.C.I. in Paris. She also did work for the Italian furniture brand De Padova, and at the architectural firm of de Renzio and Ramerino, where she designed restaurants and showrooms.
In 1996, she was made the head of the design department at Lissoni and Partners, and in 2001 she opened her own studio in Madrid, which does architecture as well as product design. Her list of clients is a who's who of Italian design houses: Agape, Alessi, Artelano, B&B, De Padova, Driade, Foscarini, Kartell, and Moroso, among others. She has won several awards for design, including the Gold Medal of fine arts from the Spanish government, and her Fjord armchair is part of the MoMA's permanent collection.
Her designs are playful, colorful and always a little bit unexpected, bringing something bold and fresh to the world of contemporary design. She experiments with shapes but also with colors and materials as well, creating furniture with quilted fabric, plastic cording, and even colored glass.
While most of her designs may be out of reach for someone just starting to furnish a home, she's definitely one to watch, as one of the most influential and innovative designers working today.
If you're interested in reading more about Patricia Urquiola, allow me to recommend this great interview with Australian design publication Yellowtrace. And check out the rest of our series about influential women in design.