• 05.20.11

The Best Of Design Week: Rafael de Cardenas’s First Furniture Line [Slideshow]

A stunning line of furniture that evokes both Ettore Sottsass and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Believe us when we say that we saw enough furniture and design at last weekend’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair to make our eyes bleed. So coming upon Rafael de Cardenas‘s new show at Johnson Trading Gallery was like arriving at an oasis in a big desert of faux deer heads, silkscreened bird silhouettes, and assorted porcelain bullshit.


Cardenas, a former creative director at Imaginary Forces, spends most his time on his booming interior-design business. This is his first line of furniture. Instead of getting too fancy with things, he’s made a lot from a little: The pieces are simply made of plywood, working off of the basic form of a cube. The result is meant as an homage to Frank Lloyd Wright, and Bruce Goff, an iconoclast whose architecture melded Wright’s influence with echoes of Art Deco and the geometries and colors of Navajo art.

Which goes a long way to explaining the sharp angles and electric color palettes found here — If Ettore Sottsass had served time as a designer for Pendleton, this is about where he’d be.

Check out the show, through June 25th, at Johnson Trading Gallery.

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.