Maison & Objet might be first known as a French fair, but its Miami-based American edition, which is next scheduled for 10-13 May 2016, is steadily gaining a traction of its own.
This week, the fair announced the winner of its Designer of the Year accolade: Rafael de Cárdenas. Founder of the New York City design practice Architecture at Large, de Cárdenas is the creative force behind such sumptuous projects as Nike’s private women-only gym 45 Grand, the reinvention of the Noughties’ Manhattan mainstay Asia de Cuba, the seductive London boutique of jeweler Delfina Delattrez and more. His client list reads like a glossary of mega brands, such as Barneys New York, Baccarat and Cartier, while the work ranges from retail and restaurants to residences and installations.
Prior to setting up his design firm in 2006, de Cárdenas cut his teeth as a menswear designer for Calvin Klein and then as a creative director for the special effects production house Imaginary Forces. His graphic yet glamourous aesthetic is bold and refined, demonstrating a deft understanding of materials and a creative use of colour. The results are always polished, but never precious, and beautiful but still possessing depth – a formula that de Cárdenas has no doubt been honing over the last decade or so.
It’s precisely this imaginative use of colour and pattern, coupled with an ability to create environments that provoke emotions that captivated Maison & Objet Americas’ selection committee. An awards ceremony honouring de Cárdenas will be held on 11 May. He joins the Brazilian furniture designer, Zanini de Zanine, who won the fair’s inaugural award in 2015.