The winner of Haworth’s Celebrating Great Design Contest will workshop their design at Studio Urquiola. We find out more from Patricia Urquiola about what the judges will be looking for.
20 April, 2016
Top image: Patricia Urquiola in a creative team discussion
Patricia Urquiola is one of the three judges (with Nicolai Czumaj-Bront and David Barrass) for Haworth’s recently announced competition for professional architects and designers in Asia Pacific. The Celebrating Great Design Contest asks individuals or teams to conceptualise a piece of furniture or a setting that will enhance collaborative behaviours in the workplace.
The winner will be flown to Milan to workshop their design at Studio Urquiola, and then to Shanghai to work with Haworth’s Shanghai Design Team to prepare the design for prototyping, testing and production. The product will be launched in Sydney in 2017.
In an exclusive interview, we quizzed Uquiola about what’s lacking in collaborative work environments and what the judges will be looking for in the entries.
What do you think are the most critical issues that need to be addressed in workplace design today?
In workplace design today, what I appreciate a lot is how designers with new proposals can analyse and be curious about elements, situations and typologies. The way we work is no longer 9 to 5; it is more so about a time and space with a continuity. Perhaps the typologies we need for the workplace don’t yet exist.
The competition will emphasise the value of collaborative environments in the workplace. What is missing from collaborative environments today?
Many things. The competition entries might be designs for little elements and complements, or they could be for bigger spatial concepts or ideas. It’s open. The important thing to understand is that in the centre of this collaborative environment is a new sharing economy. The way that we’re working and living is much more collective now. How can we think about, and defend a certain level of privacy?
What will you and the other judges be looking for in the competition entries?
We’ll be looking for investigations into how to create realities for all the things we still need in the workplace. The most important thing is not just to re-purpose things that already exist, but to understand and question how we work every day. We’ll be looking for curiosity and attitude, and for proposals that could make the workplace more logical and comfortable. The spaces we work in are becoming more like the spaces we live in. They’re very fluid. And obviously you have to control what you’re proposing very rigorously.
Could you elaborate on some of the criteria that will be used to judge the entries?
The judges will be looking for proposals that offer new values and better ways of living and working. I think it’s important that the proposals are smart and sensible. In the end, designers need to do the hard work of questioning ourselves about how society is evolving. Finding the right questions and the right answers – that’s the problem. It can be simplified but must be intelligent.
What do you look for in the emerging design talents?
I think it’s important that they are lively and think with a contemporary attitude or a contemporary point of view – not just working with what already exists or doing what we’re already doing now. To have a contemporary eye and attitude means to think about things from another perspective – not to just see what is already there.
What can you tell us about the mentorship experience that the competition winner will have with you?
I hope that we’ll have a crossover of points of view. The winner will have a real experience in our studio, where we are working with these ‘arguments’ every day. We are a community and we share things. The people that come into the studio understand the difficulty, the complexity and the passion of working across different fields. In the studio we work in product design, architecture and other fields. I hope that the experience of working with our studio and in very different circumstances to where they live will be a very strong experience in a human way.
Read more about the competition here.
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