Patricia Urquiola’s Diverse Designs Go on View at the Philadelphia Museum of Art
The exhibit also celebrates Urquiola as this year’s recipient of the Design Excellence Award from Collab, the museum’s group that supports contemporary design.
In an industry unfortunately still dominated by men, Patricia Urquiola is one of a select group of women design leaders who have won international acclaim. Urquiola deftly brings her creative vision to products and interiors in her role as the art director for Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina and by creating innovative furniture and systems for American companies including Haworth, Skyline Design, and Coalesse.
To showcase the breadth and depth of the projects completed throughout her career, the Philadelphia Museum of Art presents Patricia Urquiola: Between Craft and Industry. On view through March 4, it is the first solo show in the United States devoted to Urquiola’s work. The exhibit not only displays her domestic objects but also celebrates Urquiola as this year’s recipient of the Design Excellence Award from Collab, the museum’s group that supports contemporary design. “The members of Collab, many of whom are designers and architects, already have an appreciation for Patricia’s work, so it’s exciting to introduce it to a larger audience,” says Donna Corbin, the museum’s Louis C. Madeira IV associate curator.
The show includes a selection of furniture, ceramics, and textiles. Urquiola is known for her use of a variety of media, and visitors can see the white porcelain used in Rosenthal tableware, or the textured wool fabric in GAN rugs, which double as art. As the title of the show suggests, she combines centuries-old artisanal techniques with industrial production methods to create distinctly modern objects and spaces. “Patricia is interested in handcraftsmanship and traditional materials. Her return to architecture has influenced her product design, with a return to surfaces and texture,” Corbin says.
The curator wanted not only to present Urquiola’s body of work but to enable visitors to gain insight into the designer’s process and how she generates her endless stream of ideas. There are two photo collages in the exhibit, one depicting her architectural commissions and the other showing the designer at work. For Urquiola, designing involves sketching and making small-scale models of her pieces. “She loves to draw, it’s an immediacy of process, and we’re sharing her process with the public,” Corbin adds. “She also plays with memory, associating one thing with another and layering ideas, which is central to the decorative arts. She has such a personal approach to design.”
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