When Patricia Urquiola met Giulio Cappellini

Patricia Urquiola tells Wallpaper* about working with design visionary Giulio Cappellini, Guest Editor of our October 2023 issue

Patricia Urquiola Cappellini
Giulio Cappellini and Patricia Urquiola
(Image credit: Courtesy Patricia Urquiola)

Patricia Urquiola and Giulio Cappellini share a great respect for design's great masters, having both been inspired by the leading names that shaped the landscape of Italian and international design across the 20th century. This common fascination is evident in their work together, from the Terrazzo surface of the ‘Radical Fake’ desk that nods to Shiro Kuramata speckled patterns, to the structure of the ‘Lud'o’ armchair, so closely linked to Vico Magistretti's approach to design.

'Patricia is a much loved and undisputedly successful designer,' Giulio Cappellini told us. 'We have always been bound by a deep esteem and friendship, and I am proud to say that the first project realised by Patricia is a series of stone seats for the garden of my father’s house. For Cappellini, she created the “Lud’o” armchair, a product of great commercial success, but the piece I am closest to is “Radical Fake”, a small desk with unusual shapes and materials.'

Here, as part of Giulio Cappellini’s guest editorship of Wallpaper* October 2023 (also including an interview with Barber Osgerby on Cappellini, and Cappellini’s vision for the interiors of tomorrow), Urquiola tells us about her collaboration with Cappellini, and how it has inspired her throughout her design practice.  

Patricia Urquiola and Cappellini: interview

Patricia Urquiola Cappellini desk

An image from the July 2018 issue of Wallpaper*, featuring Patricia Urquiola's 'Radical Fake' desk for Cappellini. Also part of the vignette is the ‘Noli’ chair by Zanotta, ceramic sculpture (on floor), €1,125, by Nathalie Du Pasquier; ‘clay’ sculpture by Formafantasma, both for Bitossi, and ‘ÆDes’ sculpture, by studio testo

(Image credit: Photography: Beppe Brancato. Interiors: Matthew Morris)

Wallpaper*: How did you meet Giulio Cappellini?

Patricia Urquiola: I met him when I was the head of design at Piero Lissoni Studio. I was a big fan of Giulio not only as art director, but also for his amazing installations. The first I remember was at Palazzo Morando in 1986, when I was still a student of architecture in Milan, dedicated to the Progetti Compiuti collection by Shiro Kuramata. Other impressive events were the first anthological exhibition in Cologne in 1994, curated by Achille Castiglioni; a show at Juliet’s House in Verona in 2002; and all the Superstudio installations. 

Patricia Urquiola Cappellini

(Image credit: Courtesy Patricia Urquiola)

W*: What did you most enjoy about working with him?

PU: I think Giulio Cappellini revolutionised how we express design with a unique language and openness. He is one of the industry’s best talent scouts, nurturing creativity and pushing boundaries. His visionary leadership inspires the next generation of designers, leaving a lasting impact on the design world.

Patricia Urquiola Cappellini chair

‘Lud'o’ chair

(Image credit: Courtesy Patricia Urquiola)

W*: How has your collaboration with Cappellini helped shape your career?

PU: My collaboration with Cappellini has been truly inspirational. Every project we do together begins with a series of engaging and insightful conversations. At the beginning, I did a special collection in connection to an exhibition, that was not put into production. That stays in Giulio’s house. 

One of our latest projects is ‘Lud’o’, a seating piece that holds great significance for both of us. As we discussed ideas and concepts, we found ourselves delving into the world of design heritage and drew inspiration from the work of Vico Magistretti. Presenting one of the initial prototypes to Giulio, it immediately became clear the connection with Vico’s design philosophy and approach. Our collaboration is a true journey of growth, pushing the boundaries of design.

W*: What is your vision for future landscapes in private and public interiors?

PU: We finally all understand the environmental issues must be solved. As designers, when we start working on a new product, we need to think of the afterlife of it as a crucial part. When I was younger, ‘the idea’ was the most important aspect of our work. I see now that the way we work has changed, that eco-friendly materials and practices are integral to creating responsible and environmentally conscious spaces. 

Moreover, technology will play a central role in shaping interiors, offering immersive experiences and enhancing user interactions. Seamless transitions between real and virtual worlds will become a natural part of interior design, enabling innovative and dynamic spaces. However, the common qualities defining designers have not changed: we all still need to be curious, hard researchers, unfearful of coming out of our comfort zones and always trying to go beyond the limit.


A version of this article appears in the October 2023 issue of Wallpaper*, available in print, on the Wallpaper* app on Apple iOS, and to subscribers of Apple News +. Subscribe to Wallpaper* today

Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.