Rafael de Cardenas: The Design World's Current Darling

Rafael de Cardenas: The Design World's Current Darling

Sarah Coffey
May 23, 2011

Store History

  • Founded: 2005
  • Founded by: Rafael de Cardenas
  • Headquarters: New York, NY

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.

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

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

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