Interview: Architect Rafael de Cárdenas

Before Rafael de Cárdenas received his master’s in architecture, his roots were planted in fashion soil where he served as a men’s collection designer for Calvin Klein. That’s probably no surprise to those who appreciate his interiors. Both his commercial work and his residential projects (including two pied-à-terres for Canadian supermodel Jessica Stam) sport bold colour and ’80s-style geometric prints that look pulled straight off the runway. De Cárdenas will be speaking at the 2014 Interior Design Show in Toronto on January 25 at 4 p.m., and you can see more of his striking work — including Jessica’s East Hampton home — in this gallery.

House & Home: What are some of the big home decor trends you are excited about for 2014?

Rafael de Cárdenas: Big home decor trends tend to move at a very slow pace, following other cultural trends in art, fashion, etc. I am more excited by trends that are of-the-moment. Fashion and music are huge influences, from runway to reality, pop to indie music.

H&H: Which projects do you prefer working on, commercial or residential, and why?

RdC: Residential and commercial each have such distinct ways of working, and the kind of residential projects we work on are even more specific, so it is great to be able to combine the two. We like the ability to work on multiple, varied scales across categories without being split between, or limited to, residential and commercial. We also work on object design, focusing on how those objects are used.

H&H: You are known for having fashion design roots, how do you suggest readers impart a runway chic (or in your words, “add a little mascara and lipstick”) to their homes?

RdC: Lipstick is a personal choice. Each individual considers their color preference, personal style and what statement they are interested in making. The home should be approached in a similar fashion, creating a surface and series of meanings that are a reflection of the individual.

H&H: You’ve said art is the quickest way to change the vibe of a room. What are some of your favourite artists?

RdC: Ricky Swallow, Matt Connors, Ron Nagle. Right now I am very interested in objects, particularly small sculptural objects.

H&H: What really personalizes a space?

RdC: The cultural references that are often left out or overlooked. Inserting details like books, music and art into a space creates a strong personal statement in a simple yet direct manner.

Read more exclusive interviews here.

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