How Patricia Urquiola’s ‘No’ Led to a Groundbreaking Sustainable Chair

The Bolete Lounge BIO modules designed by Patricia Urquiola for Andreu World. Photos courtesy Andreu World


June 15, 2023

Patricia Urquiola is sitting on the Bolete Lounge BIO chair she designed for Andreu World. She is delightful as always, passionate and eager, but not without signs of fading from a busy day of relentless press meetings during NeoCon—the massive annual contract furniture tradeshow in Chicago. Two assistants try to sneak her a plate of fruit and a hot drink, but she’s already locked into our conversation. She is on a mission.

Andreu World is a Spanish furniture company founded in 1955 by Francisco Andreu Marti who turned his family’s small woodworking workshop into a company dedicated to the manufacturing of bentwood parts, assembling, and finishing of chairs. The current CEO is Jesus Llinares, who is also on a mission—to create a positive impact on the planet through innovative designs and industry leading sustainability practices. Andreu World specializes in the manufacture of seating and tables and collaborate swith top designers around the world. Wood plays a vital role in Andreu World’s identity (they go through great lengths to manage their own forests). So it makes sense that Jesus would approach Patricia to design a wood sofa. She said, “No.”

Bolete Lounge BIO is a collection designed for the circular economy. All of its parts are easily separable, and it has a minimal carbon footprint.

“Sometimes when they put you in the uncomfortable room, you get the good solution,” Patricia tells me. She said no because she felt like a traditional sofa wasn’t what the brand needed. She also felt like there was more to be explored from the recyclable, biodegradable, compostable, thermo-polymer (that somehow does not come from fossil fuels) she had helped usher in with their previous collaboration—the Nuez Lounge BIO. Jesus agreed.

Born in Oviedo, Spain and now residing in the design powerhouse of Milan, Patricia has long been a leading voice in design, and especially in Milan. She attributes her success to the rigors of the Italian design system and shares how special it is to work for a company from her native country—and with a CEO who allows her to challenge his ideas. “He believes in me because of this Italian system I’ve been through.”

The result of this recent collaboration is the Bolete Lounge BIO—an armless, upholstered lounge chair with a distinct personality; it stands out as a symbol of both their dedication and innovation.

“The intention has been to create a sofa that would spark conversation and recreate an unexpected corner of privacy to conceive a space that is different from traditional meeting rooms or seating arrangements,” she says.

Patricia’s design insight and Jesus’ willingness to adopt new, sustainable materials resulted in a chair that not only provides comfort and style but also embodies a strong commitment to the circular economy.