Rafael de Cardenas
New York, NY
Founded by Rafael de Cárdenas, ARCHITECTURE AT LARGE, is a seasoned resource for design vision and execution focused on residential and commercial interiors, architecture, furniture, and integrated objects. We favor concept over strategy, the cosmopolitan over the genre- or era-specific, and the atmospheric over the static. Ever-focused on the contemporary, we take diligent note of the past while day-dreaming the future.
Rafael Cardenas is on a roll. Lately, it seems like a new project or collaboration lands in our inbox every week — he just launched his first furniture collection (currently on view at Johnson Trading Gallery), Elle Decor is featuring him in their Modern Life Concept House, and he recently wrapped up some high-profile commercial projects including Unknown Union, a meanswear storefront in South Africa, and Niko, a collaboration with New York City restaurateur Cobi Levy…
… but the real reason he's so hot right now is probably because his work is instantly recognizable and totally his. As he pops up in all these different places and projects, he's easy to spot. Although he says he's interested "in creating environments with moods, as opposed to any specific style," his portfolio has an overarching aesthetic that's geometric, colorful, and sort of feels like disco-meets-Japanese-arcade.
Trained as an architect, he worked for Calvin Klein before going back to school for his Masters. He opened his own firm, Architecture at Large, in 2005, and — like most businesspeople who seem to garner sudden fame — he's been laying the groundwork for years.
This year marks the debut of his foray into furniture design and it's the most recent in a string of projects that stretch across disciplines. His style isn't for everyone — the furniture, in particular, seems more at home in a SoHo gallery than it would in a living room. The super-sharp edges don't convey a sense of comfort, but that's not the point. You can tell just by looking at his portfolio that Cardenas isn't interested in creating objects or environments that are familiar and relaxed; he wants to make the unexpected real.
PROJECTS SHOWN ABOVE
• Unknown Union, Capetown, South Africa
• Furniture Collection at Johnson Trading Gallery, New York
• O.H.W.O.W. Cappellini, New York
• O.H.W.O.W. Exhibition, Rome
• Niko, New York
• O.H.W.O.W. Bookstore, New York
AROUND THE WEB
• Daring & Dramatic: The Work of Rafael de Cardenas | Apartment Therapy
• Unknown Union by Rafael de Cardenas | Dezeen
• NY Design Week 2011: Rafael de Cardenas on His First Furniture Collection | Core 77
Images: Ing Prins | Architecture at Large, Rafael Cardenas Exhibition at Johnson Trading Gallery, Floto+Warner | Architecture at Large, Francesco De Michelis | Architecture at Large, Floto+Warner | Architecture at Large