Inlays and buildings, damasks and plots. Some exponents of a ‘Fun Arstocracy’ – talents undeclared from titles
THE AMOUNT OF SHEER HUMAN ENERGY that Patricia Urquiola manages to impart to you is difficult to describe. It’s a tempest of evocative, sometimes improbable words mixed with spicy and graphic Spanish detail, a rhythmical heap of ideas and concepts that are thrown down in front of you; surreal anecdotes, a parade of palpable imag- es, humour, fun, and go-go bon mots. No, there is none of that metaphysical Spanish melancholy of the ‘Siglo de Oro’ in Patricia, who was born in Oviedo in 1961, and is among the most renowned architects and designers internationally. She’s beautiful, with her radiant, sculptured face and well-defined Hidalgo features.
Based in Milan, she’s an Asturian of Basque descent. She was portrayed by Karl Lagerfeld in black and white on the pages of Vogue Paris. Strange, because when you think about Patricia, it’s colours that come into your mind. Patricia trained in Italy, taught by great designers such as Bruno Munari and Achille Castiglioni. It was at De Padova that she met Vico Magistretti in 1991, the start of a mutual collaboration. She collaborates with Alessi and B&B, Kartell, Molteni, Driade, Poltrona Frau, Cappellini and many more. A uni- versity teacher, with multiple personalities ranging from the field of design to archi- tecture to exhibition construction, Patricia is the Art Director at Cassina, a company and expressive style that she has often referred to as an inspiration for her own career. «Cassina is an aristocratic child that’s ninety years old − says Patricia − a rigorous line of contemporary research, without many affectations, that has never been interrupted». In 1996 she became design director at the Lissoni studio, while in 1998 she arrived at Moroso, making a name for herself with her flexible, changing upholstery that iden- tified a new concept of sitting. Her objects and furniture express her design terroir. They are sincere, seemingly simple yet with a soul within, a mathematical proportion. They’re snug, versatile and metamorphic.
Funny and funky. «I’m sure − she says − that people come to me because they feel that I’m a can-do sort of person, I’m experimen- tal and I listen and pay attention to them. Basically, I like to dare, and I never say no out of hand. The intrinsic relationship with the material and its inner lymph has allowed me the chance to move, keeping hold of the lessons I’ve learned from the masters. Nobility as I understand it lies in the material and in the design. I like giving value to second-class products, using production scrap. Top quality marble is sublime, but believe me, it’s re- ally fantastic how much you can invent starting from scrap pieces. Machines can cut off extremely fine thicknesses and have made marble malleable, light and ductile. You get some real surprises from it. Of course, it’s a game that works if you can give it an added value through design, if you can take a gamble with an impulse that’s both visionary and protective, in an oxymoron. I accepted a hotel that didn’t have any special characteristics and that had passed through various hands and I gave it a different dignity, a garb that has transformed it into a cult. For the last decade I’ve embarked on a journey with Muti- na into the world of ceramics. Together we’re restoring a beautiful raw concrete structure by Angelo Mangiarotti as an exhibition space, with a spatial approach reminiscent of Jean Prouvé. It’s becoming a sort of small cathedral, featuring ribbing that takes on the appearance of a musical score».