“True quality develops in line with client expectations”

Patricia Urquiola is one of the most innovative furniture designers of her generation. Everything she creates has an appeal that is both contemporary and engaging. She talks to us about modern luxury and real quality.

Marco Craig
Hendrik Lakeberg

Ms Urquiola, is it hard to be original when it comes to designing furniture nowadays?
Patricia Urquiola: It’s definitely not easy. There are, of course, certain functional aspects of furniture that will always remain the same. On the other hand, we use sofas in many ways that are different from 100 years ago. These days, a sofa is a place to come together with friends and family, but it’s also somewhere we can sit and work, eat or read. To be honest, each of these activities calls for a different ergonomic design. Industrial manufacturing processes are also constantly evolving, as are materials R&D and craftsmanship. In the future, factors such as the Internet of Things, AI and biotechnology will play a huge role in design. Not to mention sensitivity, taste and social reading – in other words, our capacity to work on ideas collaboratively.

How would you define luxury today?
Urquiola: Luxury is all about quality. That has nothing to do with the price. What matters is the thought that goes into an object. Does it enrich the owner’s life in some way? Can he or she develop an emotional connection with it? Does it make their everyday life more comfortable? I think that real quality surpasses expectations. It has to be intuitive, personal and evolutionary – in other words, it has to develop in line with the user’s expectations.

“Does it enrich the owner’s life in some way? Can he or she develop an emotional connection with it? That’s the key to quality design.”

What inspires your designs?
Urquiola: Ideas often come when I least expect them. Not necessarily when I’m working – they’re just as likely to come to me in the evening. I often find inspiration in my passion for art, literature, music, film and fashion.

Do you have any rituals that help with your creativity?
Urquiola: I wish it were as simple as that. Travel is very useful. Coming up with a great idea always feels as if you’ve just been struck by lightning. But that’s merely the starting point in a lengthy process that involves testing whether the idea is really as good as you first thought it was. That’s the part of my work I enjoy most: the journey that takes you from the idea to the product.

Would you ever be interested in designing a car?
Urquiola: I’d love to! It would have to be emotional, with safety a priority, and it would feel like a living space that can take you from A to B.

Patricia Urquiola
The Spanish architect and designer lives and works in Milan. One of her most famous pieces is the Antibodi chaise longue for Moroso. Her Urquiola Studio regularly collaborates with luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton. And she has also worked with BMW in the past, for instance at the Salone Mobile.