Mysticism meets modernity in Patricia Urquiola’s debut furniture collection for Salvatori

The Spanish designer’s monumental new ‘Taula’ tables fuse inspiration from ancient architecture with cutting-edge construction

salvatori taula table
Salvatori

In the hands of Italian brand Salvatori, stone takes on breathtaking new forms. Known for working with a host of global designers to create its extraordinary furniture and finishes, the company has just launched its latest collaboration with one of design’s most exciting names: Patricia Urquiola. The Spanish architect and designer has already forged a link with Salvatori by contributing her miniature marble ‘Kore’ houses to its project ‘The Village’, which explores the concept of home in the modern world. Now she’s unveiling ‘Taula’, a series of dining and coffee tables inspired by ancient megalithic forms. Here, we talk to the designer to discover the story behind the collection.

salvatori taula collection patricia urquiola
Salvatori

The collaboration

The ‘Taula’ collection was challenging not just from a technical viewpoint, but because it was born in the middle of lockdown. ‘Everything was at a standstill in terms of testing and developing prototypes - steps that are fundamental when you’re working with stones that need incredible attention, with no room for error,’ explains Urquiola. ‘The project was purely virtual for a while, but now that we are in contact in person it is even more joyful. The many online meetings didn’t stop us creating an extremely cohesive rapport.’ After a long period of research, experimentation and testing, ‘Taula’ was perfected – and it is more than worth the wait. ‘It was a fascinating project,’ says Urquiola, ‘worked on simultaneously with the ‘Kore’ collection but designed as a complete furniture concept.’ This is the designer’s debut furniture range for Salvatori, but we can’t help thinking there will be more to come from this creative partnership.

salvatori taula table collection patricia urquiola
Salvatori

The inspiration

‘Taula’ is the Catalan word for ‘table’, and it’s also the term used to describe a series of megalithic sculptures on the islands of Menorca and Mallorca, built between 500 and 300 BC. Believed by some to have links to an ancient healing cult, or to have a mysterious astrological significance, they’re a familiar presence for Urquiola. You can see the huge, block-shaped stones of the taula, laid one on top of the other, reimagined in her designs, which come in round, square and rectangular shapes. ‘We have reinterpreted and simplified the ancestral structures,’ she explains. ‘The tables look almost as though they have been sketched: you feel you could trace them in a single movement, starting from the top and finishing with the solid supporting volumes.’ The tables match immense strength with great elegance, exalting the tactile qualities of stone.

salvatori taula table collection patricia urquiola
Salvatori

The shapes

Though they look monumental, the ‘Taula’ tables also possess an unexpected lightness, thanks to an ingenious construction technique that makes the tops appear to float, poised delicately on their curved legs. This optical illusion pays tribute to the mystical character of the ancient taula sculptures, and was brought to life with an artful combination of craft and technology. The sinuous stone forms are juxtaposed with a precision-engineered metal support system, born of meticulous research into form and perspective by Salvatori’s design team. Defying our customary perception of stone as a heavy material, this design trick makes it feel almost ethereal. ‘The challenge was to find a balance in the play of weights, ensuring that the meeting between the stone and the supports was functional,’ explains Urquiola. ‘Taula’s elements reveal themselves almost imperceptibly. What makes them so fascinating is the seeming precariousness between the joints and volumes, in direct contrast to the traditional idea of mighty stone constructions.’

salvatori taula table collection patricia urquiola
Salvatori

The materials

The stones for this collection were carefully selected for their ability to ‘play off each other in a dialogue’, says Urquiola. The six tables in the range are offered in a mix of Crema d’Orcia, a cream-coloured limestone; Pietra d’Avola, a chocolate-hued limestone; and three classic marbles: white Bianco Carrara, grey Gris du Marais® and Verde Alpi, a deep emerald green that adds a flash of colour to an otherwise neutral palette. ‘Salvatori gave us tremendous freedom in terms of composition, meaning we could design single-material tables and also combine two types of stone in bi-material variants,’ says Urquiola. What that means in practice is that you can choose between tables in one soft, neutral colour, or pieces that contrast grey or white stone with bolder green marble elements.

Each stone was sourced from locally owned quarries, explains Urquiola. At the heart of the design, right from the beginning, was an enormous respect for the material itself,’ she says. ‘We understood that we were dealing with a resource that needed to be safeguarded, and learned to evaluate the limits of each material, adapting to its characteristics.’ The final touch was to treat the stones with a neutral sealant, which not only helps protects them from staining, but also ensures they’re suitable for use with food. The ‘Taula’ collection is as practical as it is beautiful.


Discover Patricia Urquiola's 'Taula' table collection at Salvatoriofficial.com

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