Posts Tagged ‘the corninthian hotel’
Bouncing down Greene Street in Soho, Rafael De Cardenas is in a hurry! He is late! But, I don’t mind. I am waiting pick his brain, on what will be the first interview for Knstrct.com. Cite NYC, the showroom where we are meeting, is keeping me busy with all of its detailed and quirky home accessories. Rafael boosts himself up the small set of stairs, and comes to greet me.
He carries himself with an air of interest, that makes you want to strike up a conversation with him, even if its about tar, He’d have an opinion on it, and it will be interesting. I could tell right off the bat that he had to fight to get out of his office, I can only imagine the intense deadlines he is faced with on a daily basis. So we eagerly shake hands and sit down at some designer named dining room table, and start a quick game of 21 really important Questions.
K: Who do you like more? your mom? or your dad?
RDC: Ummmmmmmmm. No Comment.
K: What is the most important part of a sandwich?
RDC: The filling.
K: What is the last book you read?
RDC: Bill Clegg, Portrait Of An Addict As A Young Man, Its not the kind of book I normally read. I read it because I thought the author was cute….
K: Do you have a belief in certain spiritual things? (For instance, souls, nirvana, God, invisible pink unicorns, flying spaghetti monsters, or heaven.)
RDC: The idea of heaven is extremely appealing to me. I have never heard of a description of heaven that does not sound absolutely heavenly. So I can’t imagine that it would be a bad place to be, or replicate, or want to be in. So aside from spiritual aspirations, I think heaven is something that we can aspire to live in our own lives, living harmoniously together. I am a little bit of a hippie in that sense, and I think people are not nice enough to each other. I believe in heaven from a spiritual aspect because I choose to, even though I was raised in an atheist household, I believe in the heaven that I subscribe to, which is not necessarily religious based. I don’t like the idea of dying, so I think that heaven is a good way of buffering that thought. I believe in heaven… and I hope I go there.
K: What is your favorite drink?
RDC: Pellegrino. The size of the bubbles are perfect.
K: What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
RDC: Pellegrino. Lemons. Chocolate.
K: How would you explain interior design to a 4 year old?
RDC: 4 year olds already have a clear intuitive sense of interior design. They are kind of always rearranging things, notice 4 year olds have a habit of not leaving anything where it is, they move it around and around, regardless of what a chair is meant to do, they may re purpose the chair to do something else. I wouldn’t want to explain interior design to them.
K: If you could be a character of fiction, who would you be?
RDC: Not a fiction character, but I love signers and performers, so If I could be any singer or performer I would be Madonna during her Blond Ambition Tour, Vogue with a cone bra, it’s all pretty awesome to me.
K: If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you a position on their planet, what would you want?
RDC: If I was able to acquire some excellent singing and dancing skills in the travel portion I would want to be the most famous singer/performer on the planet.
K: If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
K: What traits in people do you dislike?
RDC: Excessive hubris, ego-mania, which is unfortunately rampant, which is kind of a horrible thing to deal with.
K: During what daily activities do your biggest ideas come to you?
RDC: Its always when I’m doing something that’s not work related. I am very present in my life when i am running.
K: Tell us a little bit about your start as a principal of a design firm, entrepreneur, and designer. I know you started at Calvin Klein, but what made you jump out and say ‘I want to start a design firm?”
RDC: It didn’t really happen that way. I was very young when I worked for Calvin Klein doing fashion. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to work in fashion for the rest of my life and I thought going to school was a good way of getting my parents to support that decision, I didn’t see architecture as a means to becoming an architect, but I thought of it as a way of furthering my design education.
After getting my Masters in Architecture at UCLA, I worked for Gregg Lynn, he was my thesis adviser and I was very close with him throughout my time there. I worked with him for a year, then worked on a submission for the new World Trade Center. At that point I worked closely with Imaginary Forces to package the submission and they hired me to work in production design, it was architectural and environmental, but the emphasis would be content delivery and sort of figuring out dynamic content delivery systems for various projects. I never planned on working on my own, it appealed to me, but I don’t know a lot about architecture in terms of discipline. Gregg’s office was a very unorthodox office and I don’t really know what it’s like to work in architecture, my world was more closely aligned with artists and fashion photographers. I did not set out to have my own firm, a friend opened up a store and asked me to design it, and then it just sort of snowballed. I never had any big plans, it just sort of happened.
K: What has been the scariest moment you have had while venturing out on your own?
RDC: Money. Money is the scariest thing. Often, in a design office you can’t do all the things you want to do because you are just not well financed enough. I don’t think designers should charge more for their services, I charge appropriately. But people don’t realize that if we work on a year long project and I have 1 or 2 people on that project full time, It’s a lot of money. Most people don’t even realize how long the design process takes. I don’t think design is the hard part, it’s the money part.
K: We are living in a time of financial….modesty, with this recession. During such hard times, what is the importance of interior design to you?
RDC: There is not “no money”, there is “less money”. For what it’s worth, when there was an excess of money I don’t think design was better. In fact, I’m not going to say it was worse, but a lot of the architecture produced in the economic boom was unfortunate to say the least and now we have these giant eye sores to deal with forever. I don’t think that money is necessarily the thing that prevents design from happening. The lack of money presents challenges, and you always need some resistance in the design process or else you are operating in a vacuum. You just have to be more inventive and more creative within a smaller budget. but the importance of creating an environment that suggests a mood may be more important during times where people will be spending a lot of time at home. I don’t see it as a terribly different thing, but I think in America and Europe for the past 50 years there has been an upswing [of] aspiration where a lot of people are moving from lower to middle to upper class, within less than one generation. For the west it seems as though it’s probably the case that [it] is not going to happen for a little while. It seems that other places around the world are having their “booms” in that sense. That sort of aspiration is motivated by money, but also optimism, it is an amazing time to live in. 50′s America gave birth to so many types of design, that was definitely a time of optimism that was very well funded. There is a difference between well funded and excessive, and I think we were kind of living in a time of excess. From that stand point, the recession is not the worst thing in the world, it is kind of a good thing to have a reality check.
K: What is your favorite cheap material to use?
K: You have worked heavily in New York, Miami, and London. Do you have a preference of which city? Which do you like to work in the most?
RDC: I grew up here in New York, I am here by default. I am very blessed to be working in multiple locations. We are working all over the place, we are in south Africa, and Moscow. I love working in many places. I love New York in a way that I love my mother, I don’t think about it, I take it for granted in a sort of way. But, regardless of where the project is executed there is always a little piece of New York in it.
K: What are we going to see next from Architecture At Large?