10 Outstanding Architects Who Tackled Industrial Design
Are you an aspiring architect who dreams of designing your own furniture? Fear not, for you are not alone! For decades, architects around the world have ventured their creativity of designing large scaled projects into smaller scaled entities. For inspiration, here is a list of 10 architects and industrial designers, some more famous than others, who tested out their talents in furniture making. These designers continue to make furniture design that is both innovative and practical towards their large scale projects and sometimes for a deeper intuition.
1. Ferruccio Laviana
Ferruccio Laviana is known for being part of a generation of young Italian designers who made their mark internationally in design in the early 90’ He was born in 1960, and graduated from architecture in 1986 and then later from design in 1984 at the polytechnic institute in Milan.  He collaborated with De Lucchi in 1983 and became a partner in 1986.  Soon after, he worked with various companies and began designing whimsical, colorful, and expressive furniture and objects. His idea was to take what was in the past and create a contemporary design that looks and feels futuristic. A famous piece he designed is the Bourgie Table lamp, which incorporates bold forms and classical references. It is made of polycarbonate, a popular modern material in the 21st century.  Having a lamp designed by Laviana is sure to bring some light into your space!
2. Foster and Partners
Foster and Partners is one of the most innovative and integrated design practices in the world. Their approach is to create sustainable architecture. The services they provide for their industrial design work is just as important as their architectural endeavors. The focus of product design is to understand the importance of necessity – how a product can respond to its needs. Foster and Partners designed its first products in 1987 called the Nomos Desking System. What started out as a custom design for an office became a subsequent commission by furniture manufacturer, Tecno. This product has earned the Design Centre Award Baden-Württemberg International Design Award in Italy and is a continuing manufactured product. 
3. Patricia Urquiola
Originally from Spain, but Italian by choice, architect Patricia Urquiola is amongst the top product designers. Born in 1961, she attended the School of Architecture of Madrid Polytechnic and Milan Polytechnic, and graduated in 1989 under the supervision of Achille Castiglione. One of her first project was a design she made under Vico Magistretti. Furthermore, she became product developer of de Padova from 1990-96, worked with Piero Lissoni from 1996-2000, and partnered with Patrizia Moroso around 1998. Urquiola opened her own studio with services in architecture, product design, and exhibitions. In the end, Urquiola’s work became innovative, unconventional, experimental, and emotionally comfortable, allowing her designs to become noteworthy and receiving numerous awards over the years. She designs products for the most important Italian and International firms and several of her pieces are displayed at the MOMA. A popular piece she made in the past was the Bague Lamp. Its design is a reflection of different perspective meanings of light, making it a wonderful piece in expressing integration of softness with solidity. 
4. Philippe Starck
Philippe Starck is a widely known French designer for industrial, interior, and architectural design work. His success started by designing two nightclub interiors in Paris in the 1970’s. He began making products around the 80’s, creating “sensual, appealing forms suggestive of character or personal identity” and giving “them clever, poetic or whimsical names”.  His approach in design is to create things that are out of the box and intriguing – encouraging the design process to exceed expectations. An example of this is his Rosy Angelis Lamp. The Lamp’s design is sleek lines and simple, all the while bringing forth an elegance that is clearly implied by his approach. Let Starck’s ideas ignite a spark in creating your own innovative furniture design.
5. PIero Lissoni
Born in 1956, Lissoni graduated from architecture school in Milan in 1985. He opened his design studio in 1986, which strictly focused on product design. It was not until 2002 when his studio was renamed Lissoni Associate, that he began to focus on architecture. His design approach is to create human-centered design that creates something holistic and appears both minimalistic and contemporary.  A featured design of Lissoni is the T030 Highboard. This product is a storage/shelving unit that is versatile in composition, finishes, and color. The design intent is to make this product an easy installation for adjustable wall configuration and a money savor.  You can find this product through the manufacturer LEMA.
6. Ron Arad
Similar to Philippe Starck, Ron Arad’s ideas borrow from historical precedents of previous styles, which in turn create “biomorphic forms with whimsical names”. He studied at the Jerusalem Academy of Art and the Architectural Association in London, where he later opened his architectural design office, One Off Ltd. Arad is foremost known for designing chairs. He claims that a chair’s design should not just be functional, but intriguing and delightful. He enjoys experimenting with technology and materials to create the nature of his designs. A popular chair he designed is the Raviolo in 2011. The Raviolo chair is made of molded polyethylene in two textures. It was a challenge for Dan to find a technique that would create a impressive final product. In the end, the efforts served as a positive economical alternative compared to other molding techniques. 
7. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
A team that has been working together for more than a decade, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec are well-known for their innovative product designs. Their focus is to reach a “shared notion of diligence with the intention to reach more balance and fineness”.  At the start of their career in 1997, they presented their Disintegrated Kitchen at the Salon du Meuble in Paris and were spotted by Giulio Cappelini who gave them their first industrial design project.  Today, the Bouroullec brothers design for countless manufacturers while still creating experimental designs for exhibitions and occasional architectural projects. In 2014, the designers launched a collection of glass furniture for an Italian brand from Milan, Glas Italia. The collection consists of right angled glass panels that form a desk, bench, or shelf with the edges protected by wood pieces to “distract the impression of fragility”.  The glass panels are available in light and dark grey, orange, pink, transparent or mixed color and are thermo-welded. The design of this collection is simple, yet very elegant and luxurious.
8. UN Studio
Another big name architecture practice that engages in industrial and product design is UN Studio. They idealize the promotion and practice of sustainable design with an “integral approach to architecture”.  UN Studio believes that the role of architects are changing and that new methods will need to take place to create designs that will strategically develop and assist clients in envisioning the final product. That being said, their services to design furniture include small details like door knobs and vessels, to slightly larger projects like chairs and tables. Taking the same steps and approaches for their architectural projects as their industrial products. Although this is not a huge component to the firm in comparison to their architectural projects, the techniques used to design them are expressive in simplicity while exemplifying complexities.
9. WERK LLC
Werk LLC is a small but popular furniture design practice founded by Mike Stolle and Jeff Scott. Before this duo formed Werk LLC, Mike and Jeff met at BVH Architects in Omaha. The pair was assigned to work on a conference room table for BVH and it ignited their passion for furniture design. The final product was called the Trap Table, which solved conference room problems. Later in 2013, Werk LLC was formed and the two began to work on prototype furniture, which challenged them in understanding the relationship “between function and assembly”. 
10. Zaha Hadid Architects
Last but not least, ZHA has designed numerous innovative furniture and products. To start, the practice focuses on all scales, creating “transformative cultural, corporate, residential and other spaces” that harmonize with the surroundings. As a global leader, ZHA continues to pioneer research and design investigation, collaboration with designers, engineers, artists, and clients, and the implantation of technologies that aids in achieving the “realization of fluid, dynamic, and complex architectural structures”.  As part of this focus, Zaha has pushed her work to become experiments that go beyond the boundaries of architecture and urban design. In all fields of design, her work is encompassed through a visionary aesthetic that exploits the latest technology and material innovations.  A famous piece of hers is the Serac Bench, which was developed as an urban sculpture for seating and resting. The form of the bench articulates a landscape that is fluid and continuous in nature, creating an experience of connectivity through solid and void, object and ground, and form and function.  Zaha is always making innovative and over-the-top designs for her products.
Written by Veronica Ige
Edited by Ariela Lenetsky
- Design Within Reach: Ferrucio Laviani.
- B&B Italia: Patricia Urquiola.
- Design Within Reach: Philippe Starck.
- Design Within Reach: Piero Lissoni.
- Architonic: Pierio Lissoni Products.
- Design Within Reach: Ron Arad.
- Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec Design.
- Ronan & Erwin Bouroullec design and interviews.
- Werk: Why two architects quit their jobs to design office furniture.
- B&B Italia: Zaha Hadid Architects.
- Zaha Hadid Architects Design.