Rafael de Cárdenas’ Inspirations

Should the walls of ’ studio be any indicator of his productivity—and they are—wall-to-wall bookshelves, shelves housing dozens of active project binders, and impromptu inspiration boards, made of printed images taped to walls, reveal a designer who never puts down his work.
Standing before a collection of images, taped to a white wall in a sunny meeting room, de Cárdenas explains the collection. “These were things that I printed out maybe two months ago. They stay there, and somehow they get incorporated.” In this case, that means a handful of works by Trix and Robert Haussmann and a bench, the latter which he pulled in preparation of a residential project to design a bench to sit before a 40-foot high-rise window. “I just Googled ‘stone benches’ and that came up,” he says. “It’s super cool. The bench doesn’t look like that, but it’s a reference for it.”
Next to the bookshelf, de Cárdenas admits that despite the expansive collection, a handful of titles remain in heavy rotation. “The is definitely the most referenced, I would say. I think [it finds its way into] every project somehow.” Other titles include Havana, which is being referenced for a project, the Hermès furniture catalog, and Underground Interiors, of which the studio owns two copies.
Photographs by Clemens Kois