Patricia Urqiola initially studied architecture at the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid but decided to continue her studies in Italy at the Politecnico di Milano from where she graduated in 1989. At Politecnico di Milano, Urquiola was taught by Achille Castiglioni who also became her mentor while she worked as his assistant lecturer both in Milan and Paris.
In 1990 Urquiola met furniture-company funder Maddelena de Padova, who hired her to head up her new product development office. Urquiola became the head of the Lissoni Associati design group in 1996 where she designed for a.o. Alessi, Boffi, Cappellini, Cassina and Kartell. During the early 2000’s. Urquiola began a collaboration with Patrizia Moroso, art director of the Moroso family furniture company, which would lead to several interesting seating solutions including the collections Fjord (2002), Antibodi (2006), and Tropicalia (2008).
In 2001, Urquiola founded her own architectural and design studio together with partner Alberto Zontone, working with major international companies, including B&B Italia, Driade, Louis Vuitton, Kvadrat, and Kartell. As an architect, Urquiola has mainly designed hotels, office buildings and museums all around the world.
From 2015 Urquiola has been the creative director of Cassina where her first collection for the company consisted of two of her own pieces, the Gender chair and the Beam sofa, alongside designs by Konstantin Grcic, Ora Ito and Philippe Starck. Patricia Urquiola is a part of the advisory board of the Politecnico di Milano and the Triennale Milano Museum.
She has given lectures at a.o. Harvard University in Cambridge and the Alvar Aalto Academy in Helsinki. As a furniture designer Urquiola is represented at museums including the MoMA in New York, the Decorative Arts Museum in Paris, the Design Museum in Monaco, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, the Design Museum in Zurich, and the Museum of Furniture Studies in Stockholm.