Patricia Urquiola’s design portfolio reads like a ‘who’s who’ in the world of designer furniture labels. The Spanish designer has collaborated with some of the most established furniture and homeware brands in the world, from furniture icon Cassina to the hip Glas Italia, as well as designer bathroom label Axor by Hansgrohe. Brillo, her collection for Atelier Swarovski, is one of her latest projects and one she is excited to share with homeowners in Singapore. In an exclusive interview with Home & Decor, she talks about the process of creating the collection and the issue of sustainable design.
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE TOPIC OF SUSTAINABILITY TO YOU AS A DESIGNER?
It is a matter that pervades most of my projects, because it affects not only the choice of materials, but also the whole production cycle and the work of suppliers. Today, we are living an important moment of transition for design and architecture. In the future, I believe that the system of objects will continue to evolve and diversify first of all towards new forms of production, distribution and sharing above all, also of spaces! We will have to move within increasingly complex systems, in which our role as designers, as technicians and humanists, will be primarily to ask questions, interpret the evolution of needs and the potential of research.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BRILLO COLLECTION?
When examining Swarovski’s history and the company archives we found a fabric normally used for fashion, which is made of crystals applied on a net. It’s called Crystal Mesh; it’s a fluid, metal material covered in small crystals which has a flexible nature as a sparkling, draped fabric. From this we started thinking about vases made with the same system that permit us to obtain different geometries, a soft surface that minimized the geometry of the crystals. That was how Brillo collection was born.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST COLLECTION FOR ATELIER SWAROVSKI, HAVE YOU HAD PREVIOUS EXPERIENCES WITH DESIGNING CRYSTALS?
I’ve designed Variations for Baccarat, a collection of crystal sculptural objects. For Glas Italia I created the Shimmer tables, which is characterised by their iridescent multicolored glass, and Credenza, a sideboard in stained glass, inspired by the windows of holy sites and designed together with Federico Pepe.
COMPARING BETWEEN DESIGNING FURNITURE AND HOME ACCESSORIES, WHICH DO YOU FIND EASIER AND COMES MORE NATURALLY?
It really depends from project to project. My double profession as architect and designer helps me to imagine an object inside a space and when I create an interior, I look for the sense of place each time is different. The process is similar yet it only changes scale and the professions involved. In the studio we’re continuously looking to find solution and resolve challenges with design ideas. The importance is to solve a problem or to see something interesting in the brief. If I think I can bring something new then it is not important whether it is an architecture, a furniture, an object or an interiors project.
WHAT IS ONE ITEM IN YOUR HOME THAT YOU CAN NEVER LIVE WITHOUT?
I have many, my house hosts not only pieces of furniture but also some prototypes that I am particularly affectionate of.
If I had to choose, I would pick the Nuvola Rossa bookcase designed for Cassina by Vico Magistretti, who was my mentor together with Achille Castiglioni.
I felt it was important to own one of his pieces: it sits in front of the table where I have lunch.
“IT’S CALLED CRYSTAL MESH; IT’S A FLUID, METAL MATERIAL COVERED IN SMALL CRYSTALS WHICH HAS A FLEXIBLE NATURE AS A SPARKLING, DRAPED FABRIC.”
With Brillo, Patricia manages to add a sense of softness to her crystal creations.
Patricia’s sketches of the Brillo collection during the design process