Bringing Back the Vide Poche

A vide poche—French for empty pockets—is a valet tray or empty bowl used to collect change, keys, and daily miscellany. In a time where these catch-all containers have become makeshift via coffee cans, ash trays, and mason jars, Rafael de Cárdenas’ design object, Le Cube-All, reimagines the thoughtful space where gentlemen once retired their watches and chains as they emptied their pockets at night.

“I have five or six of these kinds of things in my apartment,” de Cárdenas says. “But they’re not good. There aren’t good options—one of them is a coffee can.” Responding to a commission from Artsy and Cultured Magazine, de Cárdenas sought to fill the vide poche void with Le Cube-All, a limited edition of eight cube-shaped objects carved with a cylinder-shaped hole where change can be dropped. The object sits on a pair of interchangeable rods made with either acrylic or steel, allowing the owner to swap out the base to personalize their object.

Using a new take on the historic lacquer process, often associated with Art Deco, de Cárdenas chose to paint his objects with car paint—specifically Porsche Red and Black Sparkle. The modern process allows for the high gloss, super-finished quality of a lacquer but with a durability to withstand daily collections of coins and keys. “I think it’s more compelling as an object than as an actual catch-all,” de Cárdenas says, who has always been attracted to objects that can be used in various ways. At the moment, his own Cube-All is empty, but only time will tell how quickly de Cárdenas’ own daily ephemera will accrue.

Photographs by Clemens Kois

Explore In the Studio with Rafael de Cárdenas on Artsy.