Spanish by birth, and Italian by choice, Patricia Urquiola was born in Oviedo, Spain and studied architecture in Madrid before graduating from the Milan Politecnico in 1989. The key words for her work are: rigour and emotion, innovation and mental comfort.
She was mentored by some of the masters of Italian industrial design: Achille Castiglioni oversaw her graduate thesis, and Vico Magistretti, with whom she designed her first projects. She learned her craft in Italy, and opened a studio in Milan in 2001, where she has developed a truly global enterprise. Some highlights from her career include her encounter with Maddalena de Padova (1990), her collaboration with Piero Lissoni (1996-2000), and her partnership with Patrizia Moroso (since 1998) which led to the design of the Step Sofa, eventually debuting at the Saloni Milano and launching her into the spotlight at the young age of 40.
Amidst all of these accomplishments, she had a stint at Lissoni Associati, beginning in 1993, where she developed furniture for Italian giants Cappellini and Cassina.
Her designs are unconventional, emphatic, and experimental, blending humanist sensibilities and technical expertise – qualities that also inform her work as an architect. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona is one of her many architectural projects.
Urquiola's focus has always been on craft, which was a sensibility from the 19th century. Much of modern industrial design focuses on materials and manufacturing which risks design losing precision in handmade quality. Urquiola always makes a point to visit hand-made craft museums wherever she chooses to travel.
She has received numerous accolades and awards over the years, and in 2011 she was awarded the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes and the Order of Isabella the Catholic by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
Some noteworthy collaborations include : Agape, Alessi, Andreu World, Axor, B&B Italia, Baccarat, Beko Arçelik, Bisazza, BMW, Budri, Coalesse, De Padova, Driade, Emu, Flos, Foscarini, Gandia Blasco, Glas Italia, Kartell, Kettal, Kvadrat, Molteni, Moroso, Mutina, Louis Vuitton, Rosenthal, Viccarbe, Molteni&C, Officine Panerai, Missoni, Ritz Carlton Marriott, Design Hotel, Haworth and Boffi.
Several of her pieces are displayed in museums and her Fjord armchair is part of MOMA New York's permanent collection.