As you might have read, Fast Company has just unwrapped its 2010 Masters of Design issue, a sprawling package that includes profiles of design’s biggest names, as well as up-and-coming talents. Patricia Urquiola is definitely the former, but not because of mere fashion. The furniture designer has an intuition for lust-worthy design that simply becomes manifest once you see her work, as Linda Tischler points out:
One of the few women to make it to the top of an industry dominated by men, Urquiola is both a shrewd commercial thinker and a creative force, winning numerous awards from the likes of Red Dot and IMM Cologne as well as Designer of the Decade accolades from several European shelter magazines. She has helped BMW imagine a car designed by and for a woman, and she taught H&M how to maximize its retail space. Her range as a designer is rivaled only by Philippe Starck, Piero Lissoni, and Antonio Citterio. Last year, she completed the $194 million design of the Mandarin Oriental in Barcelona, a gilt, white-glove-inspired tour de force that has spun off some 3,000 products from carpeting to china; and in March, she unveiled W Hotels’ latest resort, a $150 million flip-flops-friendly retreat on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.
“One of the secrets of Italian manufacturers is that they show these beautiful objects and you think they’re making zillions on them, but in truth they’re going belly-up,” says Paola Antonelli, a Milan native who’s now chief curator at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. “For them, Urquiola is a winning horse. She gets business because she makes business.”