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The Village Collection by Salvatori: An interview with Patricia Urquiola

03.2021

We talk with Patricia Urquiola about The Village

Creativity is a constant process that never stops. It is a cognitive capacity that you can only learn to indulge, but will never completely control. This is something we understand and prize at Salvatori, and it was, in fact, this innate inability to switch off that sparked The Village, a project involving designers from around the globe.

It goes without saying that 2020 was an incredibly difficult year. It was, however, a year in which we also realised the true importance of the simple, normal things that perhaps previously we’d taken for granted, and none more so than our home. We came to understand just how much our home is a nest, appreciating it in its totality, rather than as a mere functional collection of four walls where we refuel, recharge and then prepare to leave each day to take on the world outside.

The events of the past year have also led to an extraordinary shared global solidarity that brought us all together. We were all in the same boat, all neighbours, in a certain sense, dependent on each when it came to how we lived our lives and shaped our future.

At Salvatori, these reflections set us to thinking about just what makes a house not merely a structure, but a home. Once we started, we couldn’t stop, and we became simply fascinated by the entire concept of home and what it means to each and every one of us, so much so that we wanted to know how others saw it.

Among the designers we involved in our creative brainstorming that led to The Village project was the renowned Milan-based Spanish architect and designer, Patricia Urquiola.

One of the key aspects we wanted to explore through The Village was the way design today takes (or should take) into account functionality and sustainability.

As Patricia Urquiola maintains, “The Village is a reflection on domestic spaces, something that is more important than ever today. Home has become the centre of our lives, our town or city, our habitat. We have all become domestic navigators, trying to orient ourselves to these new latitudes, ways of living”.

We spoke to Patricia not only about The Village but her thoughts on design overall, covering functionality, sustainability, creativity and the role of materials, with a focus on natural stone.

Discover Patricia Urquiola’s thoughts on The Village, our new project that explores the way we see our homes today

How do you see design within the context of natural stone?

Stone is a natural aggregate of minerals, in itself it is a material that traps and creates its beauty, embracing its impurities and the passing of time. Every stone is different from another, totally unique.

I must admit that when I started working with stone, I had a somewhat traditional view of a material very much linked to classic architecture. I thought it was difficult to adapt to the scale of the product and I tried to idealise it. But I wanted to challenge this prejudice and I discovered that stone is, in fact, extremely versatile. It is a material that speaks to us in a surprising way.

 

Speaking about The Village, how is design linked to our special places, those places we hold dear to our hearts?

Design is the key to evolving the spaces in which we live, spaces that today, more than ever before, continually change their function, adapting to our needs.

My special place is my home, but I like thinking about an ideal home, completely unrelated to any idea of form, but one that has the capacity to create evocative links that can help evolve the way we live.

What principles guided you in designing your two sculptures for The Village?

I sought to create essential lines that would best express the purity and energy of natural stone.

The Village is a project that was devised almost as a kind of game, but I believe that it can represent a powerful reflection on the meaning of the word “home”. We started with a more complex structure, but we then felt the need to simplify the lines, reduce the design to its true substance to put the spotlight on the material itself.

 

How important is functionality in design for you?

It’s always been a fundamental component in design. Achille Castiglioni taught us that the user is the integral part of any design and as such, should guide us to the final result.

How do you see the role and contribution of sustainability in the future of design?

It’s a vast theme that doesn’t only involve the production, but the entire life cycle of a product, right through to a potential reusage in which it enters a second life cycle.

We need to rebuild our idea of beauty, and this can even start from the imperfections and inconsistencies that make materials unique. Even if we consider the essence of natural stone, it owes its preciousness and colour to the presence of mineral impurities.

 

How did you find the experience of working with Salvatori?

It was a joy to be able to start from a “library” as rich as that of Salvatori, which contributed fundamentally to the project in terms of quality and breadth of choice.

It was very much a joint collaboration with Gabriele Salvatori and his team, who were extremely able in helping us choose the best stones and explaining their particular characteristics.

For me, it’s important to work with companies who have heritage and are strongly rooted in the philosophy of Made in Italy, which always leads to fruitful exchanges.

What name did you give to your contribution and why?

I chose the name Kore for my village as a poetic nod to the Greek statues that depict young women on the cusp of adulthood. Petra and Alma, the two types of house in the village, evoke sentiments of domestic warmth and intimacy.

 

What stones did you use for your pieces and why?

Alma is a tiny house in Rosa Portogallo marble, which has glorious colouring and veining, and for Petra I chose Travertine, a wonderfully evocative and tactile stone. I wanted to represent due worlds and two diverse, yet complementary aesthetics.

As with all Salvatori’s work, The Village is based on mutual respect, shared common values and last, but certainly not least, an enduring love and passion for creativity and design in its every form, and always with the aim of creating a better future.