Rafael de Cardenas is the Founder of Rafael de Cárdenas / Architecture at Large. De Cárdenas received his B.A. from The Rhode Island School of Design. Following graduation, he began work as a men’s collection designer at Calvin Klein for three years. In 1999, he began pursuing an architecture degree at Columbia University, later transferring to UCLA where he received his Master of Architecture in 2002. His first project following graduation was working with the architect Greg Lynn on the redesign of the World Trade Center site. Their submission, a series of five buildings interconnected to create a cathedral-like space, was one of the six final entries. De Cárdenas then began work in the New York offices of special effects production house Imaginary Forces. As a creative director working on experience design projects, he oversaw a range of innovative concepts including the BMW Experience at their headquarters in Munich, and the HBO store in New York.
In 2006, de Cárdenas opened his own design firm out of an office in New York’s Chinatown, which expanded in 2009 to its present SoHo location. His interest in creating environments with moods, as opposed to any specific style, has allowed him to work with a wide array of clients. His background in fashion continues to inform his practice. For Fashion Week 2011, he created “Love Me and Leave Me,” a window display for Barney’s New York Flagship store. Later that year, de Cárdenas launched his first furniture collection with Johnson Trading Gallery. Lastly in 2011, de Cárdenas was appointed to Baccarat’s inaugural Board of Advisors, a panel of seven designers tasked with directing the company’s vision and future. In 2012 de Cárdenas was the first and only American invited to participate in ADInteriéurs Voyages. Following his tenure on the board, deCárdenas was asked to design Baccarat’s Madison Avenue Flagship, which opened in June 2013. In 2014 de Cárdenas was honored to be a selected participant of the AD 100. The whole site feels less like internet banking and more like a fun game