This fall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Patricia Urquiola: Between Craft and Industry, November 19, 2017 – March 4, 2018, in the Alter Gallery 176, the first solo exhibition devoted to the work of this internationally acclaimed designer. The exhibition will showcase her versatility in creating products, interiors, and architectural spaces. On November 18, Urquiola will be honored with the Design Excellence Award by Collab, the Museum’s affiliate group for modern and contemporary design.
(Each year, Collab presents the Design Excellence Award to a design professional or manufacturer whose impact on the field is inspirational. Past recipients have included Rolf Fehlbaum, Marc Newson, Paula Scher and Seymour Chwast, Zaha Hadid, Alberto Alessi, Marcel Wanders, and Frank O. Gehry.)
Curious and energetic by nature, Urquiola moves with ease between product design, interior design, and architecture—whether designing handbags that convert into stools for Louis Vuitton, dinnerware for Rosenthal, or the recently opened Il Sereno Hotel on the shore of Lake Como in Italy.
Patricia Urquiola is one of the most influential designers in the world today. Born in Oviedo, Spain, and trained as an architect in Madrid, Urquiola graduated from the Politecnico di Milano, where she studied with Achille Castiglioni, one of the foremost lighting designers of the second half of the twentieth century. She opened a studio in Milan in 2001 and since that time has collaborated with dozens of manufacturers throughout the world, including Alessi, B&B Italia, Flos, Kartell, Moroso, and most recently the American firm of Haworth. In September 2015, Urquiola was appointed Art Director of the iconic Italian company Cassina. She has been the recipient of numerous accolades and awards including the Order of Isabella the Catholic, presented by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
Urquiola’s work often fuses traditional modes of production with modern design. Her “Fjord” armchair is a rethinking of a mid-twentieth-century Nordic chair, just as the “Landscape” tea set manufactured by Rosenthal is a new spin on a traditional object. Her colorful rugs that she designed in Spain are woven in workshops in India. She brings the handmade aspect of the classic rattan chair of the Philippines to her “Crinoline” chair design.
“Urquiola is part of a new generation of designers who take a humanistic approach to their work,” said Donna Corbin, The Louis C. Madeira IV Associate Curator of European Decorative Art. “She is known for exploring the possibilities of the artisanal through new technologies, to achieve something that feels familiar and evokes a sense of comfort.”
Among her most recent work on view is “Openest,” an innovative office system that is emblematic of her interest in prioritizing comfort. It was designed for Haworth offices in Michigan and was named “Best of” in the NeoCon Competition in 2014. Also featured in the form of photographs will be a number of Urquiola’s architectural commissions, including the award-winning 2005 Ideal House project, shown at the IMM Cologne international furnishings show in Germany, and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, Spain.
Collab is a group of design professionals and enthusiasts who support modern and contemporary design at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Its members experience design year-round through exhibition previews, design-inspired field trips, special access to the Museum’s world-class design collection, lectures, and opportunities to meet and learn from design curators and visionaries.
In conjunction with the exhibition, this year’s Collab Student Design Competition will challenge students at colleges and universities to create an object inspired by Urquiola’s exhibition. The goal is to design a piece of storage furniture or another functional object that can be the focal point of a room. On Monday, November 13, a panel of judges drawn from the region’s professional design community will gather at the Museum to identify the most innovative entries. The designs will be placed on display at the Museum through November 15, and visitors can cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. Winners will be presented at the Collab Design Excellence Award lecture on Saturday, November 18.
This exhibition is made possible by Lisa Roberts and David Seltzer, Poor Richard’s Charitable Trust, and Haworth. Additional support is provided by Collab and other generous sponsors. The Student Design Competition is generously sponsored by Publicis Health Media.