Design Is Continuous Experimentation Says Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola, designer and founder, Studio Urquiola, talks at the Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore on Mar. 7, 2018 Stefen Chow/Fortune

To Patricia Urquiola, design is more than just a piece of furniture — even if she’s designing a piece of furniture. She combines elements of the past, present and future in a process of continuous experimentation to create products, interiors, and architecture.

Speaking on Wednesday at the Fortune, Time and Wallpaper* Brainstorm Design conference in Singapore, the top Spanish designer and architect explored the diversity of design thinking and its applications, from products to interiors to architecture, under an umbrella she called “emphatic exchange.”

“There is no beginning or end,” said Urquiola. “Today, everything is interconnected.”

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Urquiola is one of the most important voices in international interior design. Since 2015, she has served as the art director of Cassina, a high-end Italian furniture giant, and now lives in Milan where she opened her own studio in 2001. Known for her clean but playful furniture, Urquiola discussed how she relates to customers and companies through her approach of continuous experimentation and exchange.

“I know we are in an era that is complicated and we feel very out of control,” said Urquiola. But when collaborating with companies, she tries to organize the chaos with her designs. “We need someone who takes care of these companies and builds a bridge to the future. A little element of technology makes you think about elements of the future.”

Some of Urquiola’s major works include the Jewelry Museum in Vincenza, the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Barcelona, and Il Serano Hotel in Como. Her first solo exhibition in the U.S. is currently on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

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