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A Day Off Is A Day On For Rafael De Cárdenas

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For many style-world types on the periphery of the interior design world, Rafael de Cárdenas’ opening on Friday night, part of the season’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair schedule, was the first and last ICFF stop. But that’s fitting: De Cárdenas himself toes the line between fashion and design. After studying fashion at RISD and taking a job at Calvin Klein, de Cárdenas quickly figured out that the typical fashion path wasn’t for him. After a second degree in architecture, he branched out into interiors and industrial design—all the while keeping the style world well within his sights. Recent projects include Unknown Union, the Cape Town, South Africa boutique run by the owners of New York’s now-shuttered Bblessing; the OHWOW Gallery in Miami; and the homes of Jess Stam and Parker Posey.

On Friday, he showed his first collection of furniture, an angular, cheerily painted geometric range indebted, he said, to the work of Bruce Goff and Frank Lloyd Wright. (“Actually, this table is called the Wright Table because it’s so similar to [one by] Frank Lloyd Wright,” de Cárdenas admitted. “We called it [that] to get it out of the way.”) Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon (above, with de Cárdenas) and Olivia Kim, Visionaire‘s Cecilia Dean, Sophomore’s Chrissie Miller, and artists Aaron Bondaroff and Aurel Schmidt were a few of the many who spilled onto Greenwich Street to sip beers and check out what the designer called a “joyful” collection. The wooden tables, benches, and desks were decorated with pops of metallic gold, painted ombré, or striped with brilliant color. They’re definitely not made to blend in. So where, one had to wonder, would they fit in—say, chez Stam or chez Posey? “That’s the great thing about these,” de Cárdenas said. “I don’t have to worry about what spaces they live in. That’s not my job today, that’s my job every other day. Today my job is to put it anywhere.”

Photos: Christos Katsiaouni (de Cardenas and Leon); Johnson Trading Gallery / Connie Zhou (furniture)

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Dept. of Culture