Kvadrat Soft Cell panels line the entrance of the Moroso showroom
Celebrating Patricia Urquiola's first textile collection for Kvadrat, a feast of the senses was organized at Moroso's Milan showroom during Salone. Entering through a hallway lit with the dynamic glow of Kvadrat's Soft Cell panels, guests were welcome into the main showroom where rotating columns of embroidered fabrics were hung around the circumference of the space.
The Revolving Room honored a spirit of collaboration—between Urquiola, Moroso, Kvadrat and Philips—as a showcase of the myriad possibilities for textile application. The Urquiola-designed Kvadrat collection was the filter on the acoustic lighting panels, an embroidered skin on the rotating architectural columns, the fabric on Moroso furniture and a material transformed into bowls and inspiring food design by I'm a KOMBO for the communal table.
Kvadrat Soft Cells are large architectural acoustic panels with integrated multi-colored LED lights. These "Luminous Textiles" provide an ambient glow of light filtered through the textures of Kvatdrat fabrics. The modular panels are based on a patented aluminum frame with a concealed tensioning mechanism which keeps the surface of the fabric taut, unaffected by humidity or temperature.
The magic of the panels lies in Philips' LED technology which allows architects to control content, color and movement projected from the panels. The Kvadrat textiles provide tactility and sound absorption qualities even when the Soft Cells are static.
Core77 had an opportunity to speak with Urquiola on the collaboration with Kvadrat on the occasion of the collection debut. As the first designer to create a collection for the Soft Cells panels, we were interested in learn more about the process of designing across different mediums and working with light.
From left to right: Anders Byriel, Patricia Urquiola, Patrizia Moroso
Core77: This is your first time designing textiles for Kvadrat. What was your design process like and how was it different than designing furniture?
Patricia Urquiola: We worked in two ways. The first process started with the idea of "applying memory," to create a fabric that looks like its been worn with time. This fabric will not get older in a bad way because it is already "worn." The passage of time will be good for contrast.
The other idea was to work with digital patterns. We have been working with ceramics as part of my research in the studio for a long time. Part of these patterns were in my mind as we were searching for new tiling designs. I am working with Mutina, where I am the art director, and we're trying not to work in color—exploring bas relief and a treatment of the tiling.
One pattern is a kind of matrix—its kind of a jacquard. We're working with a classic technique in a cool wool, but in the end, you have this connection with a digital world. The contrast of the jacquard is sometimes quite strong and sometimes more muted—you can see and then not see the matrix.
And then there was the possibility to work velvet—opaque and quite elegant. We use a digital laser cut technique. They are patterns but not. They give an element to the fabric but they are still and quiet.
These are digital techniques but the process to create all three patterns was quite complicated. I'm happy because we explored three complex processes but they turned out amazing.You are the first designer that Philips is working with in their architectural lighting project, Kvadrat Soft Cells. What were some of your considerations when creating the Kvadrat fabric for the Soft Cells?
The world of digital walls needs to evolve into other new things. You see the ones in the entrance—they are white and they are fantastic. With the Soft Cells, you can have this material where part of the day it is a brasserie, and then in another moment of the day it becomes a digital world in the back. It is not this airport attitude—big walls, very tough. It is more intimate—perhaps it's a room in a hotel, a public space or a house, a softer way to approach lighting.
The idea with Philips, and the name of the installation, is the Revolving Room. I like that there are images that are hidden and then revealed—they are revolving in some way, moving all the time. For example, on the Soft Cells we are showing a clip of Wonder Woman from the '50s—she goes home and touches one wall, a revolving wall. She takes off one dress, puts on a new dress, and saves the world. The installation draws on the memory of that, the images are a nice way to approach new technology as a mood and not just high performance.
New technologies are transforming the way that designers approach lighting. What are some of possibilities you are interested in exploring?
I have some good ideas about using LEDs in architectural space. I have two projects I'm working on—one is in America. Every day there are more possibilities with technology and we have to interact with it as much as we can.
What is lovely about our work [as designers] is that it is always in process. A few days ago, we experimented with the jacquard wool for the Soft Cells. Normally, an opaque fabric shouldn't work but for the Philips installation but it was working perfectly! Even when we are in the middle of producing an event we did an experiment that we might use for another event. Now, we think we can use this process more than once and we find it very interesting. We have to interact continuously with industry to find new answers.
The idea is to approach these technologies to create walls that are warm and emotional—it could be part of the day, soft, all the technology is hidden. Analogue and digital live together in my mind.