Design Stories: Patricia Urquiola and the Modern Lounge Chair
Patricia Urquiola is one of the best-known and most forward-thinking designers in the world. Over the years, she has worked with many leading furniture houses, including Moroso, De Padova, Agape, B&B, Alessi, Driade, Foscarini, Kartell, Flos, Molteni, and Artelano. She has received numerous awards, including A&W Designer of the Year and Design Prize Cologne, and is sought after as a speaker at conferences and universities across the globe.
Urquiola recently worked with Coalesse, a furnishings brand set on bridging the gap between work and life, to address the need for a comfortable seat that reflects the new ways people are working at home and in the office. The result was Hosu, which recently received a Red Dot and a gold iF design award. The Hosu challenges traditional seating typologies by converting from a traditional lounge to a floor-based seat and was inspired by the tendency creative people have to spread out on the floor. Read on to hear what Urquiola says about her design process, challenging assumptions, and the idea that became Hosu.
Darren Falls: Tell us about your process and how you tackle a design challenge.
Patricia Urquiola: The idea is always to investigate and think about new ways to approach our way of life. For example, I will go to bed and still be thinking about something, and I find myself doing drawings on a pad. So I will send an email to my assistants, who are good friends, in the night that contains a thought I couldn’t articulate in the day. I think work has to move a little bit from preconceived ideas of office time and lifetime. My hope is to make this kind of thinking comfortable, not only in a physical way, but in a mental way, to help us work.
DF: Tell us about the brief you were given to create Hosu.
PU: We were approaching a project with Coalesse that involved a not-so-obvious approach to work. It was about trying to find solutions to the boundaries between living and working. Coalesse is trying to work in that area, but there is more room for investigation.
DF: What was your intent before you began designing?
PU: What we were proposing to Coalesse was a very simplified kind of seat. It’s called Hosu, which is a Japanese name that has different meanings. One meaning is a very simplified seat, an essential seat. What we were proposing was a kind of little island, a little space that protects you in a metaphoric way. That creates a comfort zone to work in that moment. You can have it nearby, and you can move to this space at the end of the day or at the beginning of the day or you can have it in your home.
DF: What is your hope for the way Hosu is used?
PU: There are many ways that you can approach the piece and I’m curious about it. For me, when I go into someone’s office or house I’m curious about how they appropriate things and use them in a way that surprises me. I love the situation when I find one of my pieces used in a way that I didn’t expect. I like this because in the end that’s the important thing, is how we create those relationships with things. It’s the only way we will take care of them and they will live longer and we will put things in the market that will have a longer life.