Friday, May 16, 2014

The Making Of: Patricia Urquiola's Tatou Series*

Patricia Urquiola with a piece of the Tatou shade in hands.
Most design pieces by Patricia Urquiola are a beautiful fusion - between East and West, modern and ancient, art and crafts. No exception, Tatou is a new family of lamps she designed for Flos on the occasion of the 2012 London Design Festival.
A close detail of Flos Tatou Table Lamp
Initially, Urquiola was inspired by the architecture of an antique Samurai armour - a set of metal rings cleverly tied with ribbons. Samurai means warrior in Japanese, so the initial concept aimed to represent resistance and strength along with lightness and dynamism. It was a reference to the protective shell. “I was looking at modules of metal crossed with fiber and making a really powerful and emotional suspension lamp.”
Patricia Urquiola's 'Tatou' collection of lamps has its UK launch at FLOS, Clerkenwell
Photography: Sabine Zetteler
The studies for Tatou's modular plates began with wood and metal - Urquiola first created a large dome formed by overlapping perforated bands of material, like armoured plates, but she soon realised that these materials would not be appropriate and began to explore the potential of injection moulded plastic. As the product developed, she came up with the name Tatou. Urquiola explains that "Tatou is French for armadillo: the mammal famous for its structure made up of plates of bone covered with a protective layer of horn."
The designer explains her final choice of materials by pointing out that injection moulded methacrylate/polycarbonate is light and non-fragile, and it can be used for 3-D moulding in a way that allows for mass production. It is also a material that interacts with light and lends itself to different effects, depending on the proportions between its milkiness, opacity and colour. "We performed many tests to find the perfect final combination of these three components, and managed like this to give a polymer material a sense of preciousness. And we are planning to experiment with moulding using new bio polymers too."
Tatou’s shell protects your eyes from annoying direct light, but at the same time it is slender and light. The component-based design and durable materials mean that the lamp can be disassembled and cleaned in the dishwasher!
Tatou lamps are available as floor, table or pendant versions in three different finishes: white, black and ochre grey. As most of Urquiola's sophisticated designs, they are expected to become cult items for lovers of good design.

*This is my article published on Clippings

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“The idea that design is the development of a series of progressive sketches is romantic and not very accurate,”

Charles Eames noted back in 1964.