Patricia Urquiola and Heimtextil announce collaboration to explore the future of fabrics

On 9 January 2024, Heimtextil announced a partnership with Patricia Urquiola to take textile design and research into uncharted territory, championing innovation, sustainability and trends in textiles

Heimtextil at Messe Frankfurt
(Image credit: Messe Frankfurt GmbH / Pietro Sutera)

Heimtextil in Frankfurt, Germany, the world’s largest and most international textile fair, is entering into a brand-new partnership with Milan-based, multidisciplinary design heavyweight Studio Urquiola. 'Patricia [Urquiola] is one of the most influential and impressive designers of our time and is always breaking new ground,' says Olaf Schmidt, vice president Textiles & Textile Technologies of the Messe Frankfurt Group, the trade fair and event organiser behind Heimtextil. 'She has so much passion, strength of vision and creativity, and a very strong commitment to sustainability. We think it’s a perfect match.'

Heimtextil and Patricia Urquiola

Heimtextil Patricia Urquiola announcement

Patricia Urquiola (left) and Olaf Schmidt, vice president Textiles & Textile Technologies of the Messe Frankfurt Group

(Image credit: Courtesy Heimtextil and Studio Urquiola. Portrait of Patricia Uquiola by Laila Pozzo)

The textile fair is set to attract some 2,800 exhibitors from 60 countries and is a pivotal sourcing and trends platform for the global home and contract textile industry. Its team had been in talks with Urquiola for a while, but the partnership will come into effect with the 2025 edition of Heimtextil (14-17 January 2025). The pair are still very much in the research and planning phases, but the project will certainly entail a 'showcase' of sustainable textiles and interior design. 

'It's important that people see the way textiles and interior products interact and come together,' says Schmidt. Urquiola agrees, adding that the studio is 'working on developing textile products and showing how textiles can be used in product design, interiors and architecture'. Both see the new direction as an opportunity to open up Heimtextil to new and larger audiences too, 'not just sector specialists', says Urquiola, 'but everyone who is involved or interested or who can offer a different perspective'.

Patricia Urquiola's exploration of textiles

Patricia Urquiola

Patricia Urquiola

(Image credit: Nicola Carignani)

Studio Urquiola has always been passionate about the latest developments in the world of textiles (among its latest projects is Sport for Kvadrat, the world’s first upholstery textile made of 100 per cent ocean-bound plastic), and Urquiola talks of a growing interest in bio-fabrics (where micro-organisms such as fungal mycelium, for instance, are used to grow textiles to reduce water and energy consumption) or fabrics made out of hemp, seaweed, bamboo and even pineapples.

As far as production methods go, an interesting area of research is the 3D-printing of fabrics, Urquiola says, which completely eliminates waste of raw materials. 'There’s also a lot more interaction between design, biology and engineering now,' she continues, 'which is crucial because fabrics are our second skin. The range of applications for textiles is expanding and they are becoming much more than coverings, but also high-performance materials with acoustic functions that can regulate the temperature or filter the air.'

A future vision for Heimtextil

Heimtextil at Messe Frankfurt

(Image credit: Messe Frankfurt GmbH / Pietro Sutera)

Heimtextil is also at the forefront of innovation, sustainability and trends in textiles, but collaborating with Urquiola, who uses fabrics in everything from the design of hotels (she recently worked with Ian Schrager on the Rome Edition), offices (such as Mutina HQ) residential and retail spaces to furniture, fashion, exhibitions and installations, signifies a shift towards the fair seeking to create a more emotional connection with the visitor. 'Textiles have a layer of temporality within them; they communicate visual and tactile feelings and express time as well,' says Urquiola. 'When you see a textile you have expectations about how you will react when you touch it and this creates a relationship with the user.' By conjuring up a highly designed and immersive experience and ambiance, Studio Urquiola and Heimtextil intend to show what sort of spaces and feelings can be evoked through the use of textiles.

Heimtextil at Messe Frankfurt

(Image credit: Messe Frankfurt GmbH / Thomas Fedra)

Though the Studio Urquiola x Heimtextil collaboration has only just launched, Schmidt’s hope is that Urquiola’s openness to experimentation, creativity, ideas and knowledge will influence and permeate some of the other 50 textile shows Messe Frankfurt operates in 12 countries. Her input couldn’t come at a more propitious time for the fair operator and brand. Covid-19 delayed some of Messe Frankfurt’s planned openings and slowed existing platforms down, but things are now back on track, says Schmidt. 

A new textile show operated by the fair opens in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City in late February, while Heimtextil Colombia, which was due to launch in 2020, will debut in April 2024. Messe Frankfurt also recently became a shareholder in Kingpins, a premium denim show that takes place four times a year in Amsterdam and New York. 'So we have a lot of new projects and are working in new markets,' says Schmidt. For now, however, all eyes are on Heimtextil and the announcement of a collaboration that is sure to raise the design profile of the fair and the textile industry more widely.

The latest edition of Heimtextil is taking place 9-12 January 2024

Giovanna Dunmall is a freelance journalist based in London and West Wales who writes about architecture, culture, travel and design for international publications including The National, Wallpaper*, Azure, Detail, Damn, Conde Nast Traveller, AD India, Interior Design, Design Anthology and others. She also does editing, translation and copy writing work for architecture practices, design brands and cultural organisations.