New York–based Rafael de Cárdenas of the firm Architecture at Large, a multidisciplinary practice founded 10 years ago, is 2016’s Designer of the Year for Maison&Objet Americas. The award honors a North or South American industry pro who has made a significant contribution to the interior design and lifestyle industries over the course of the last year. The show, now in its second annual edition, will return to the Miami Beach Convention Center from May 10 to 13, with an awards reception honoring De Cárdenas on May 11.
Rafael de Cárdenas; courtesy Floto Warner
De Cárdenas shared with EAL his take on the honor, and what readers should look for at this season’s M&O shows:
The honor recognizes designers who have contributed to the interior design industry this past year. What are some of your favorite projects from 2015?
Nike Women studio 45 Grand; Delfina Delettrez’s London boutique; jewelry designer Noor Fares’ Olympic Tower residence; Asia de Cuba; Au Pont Rouge; and a Greenwich Street residence [to appear in Architectural Digest’s February 2016 issue].
What topic or theme, if any, do you plan to focus on during your speech at the Summit this May?
This May will be a great opportunity to reflect on my first 10 years in practice (2016 is also the studio’s 10-year anniversary). I have spent some time looking back on this past decade, and it’s been interesting to see the emergent patterns, as well as the rate at which we’ve increased in size and influence. It’s very humbling, but also inspiring. This reflection has been instrumental in trying to define our future…though I tend to shy away from big plans. I prefer to let things emerge. Take the path of least resistance and be thankful for our luck! I will additionally illustrate how we at the studio try to daydream the future. We are lucky to do what we do, and to some degree being able to suggest a dream state is a great place to start.
You’ve mentioned that Paris is something of a second home for you. What are you most looking forward to at M&O Paris later this month? And at the Americas show?
I’m looking forward to being in Paris again after the holidays. It’s an inspiring and also very familiar place for me, and an excellent counterbalance to NYC. Paris can be deeper and richer than NYC, and I enjoy the pace of day-to-day work there. I’m lucky to spend time there as regularly as I do. I’m also always grateful to come back to NYC, where things happen so quickly—sometimes too quickly. The NYC and American pace can sometimes be daunting, but it’s nice to shuttle back and forth for the balance.