Rafael de Cárdenas, Ltd.

Cárdenas’s “just enough” style is reliably intriguing, thanks to a subtle tension between opposites: contrasting  colors, lightness versus weight, classic versus modern, softness versus angularity.

All photos by Bjorn Wallander

Building a room on a foundation of clarity and precision is a talent of interior designer Rafael de Cárdenas’s. So is building a room for an unforgettable party. Both ends of the spectrum meet in this contemporary Manhattan townhouse, where light-filled spaces have an undeniable unfussy grandeur. When the living room fills with friends, they can circuit the custom coffee table and choose a seat from among soft Saporiti armchairs, a gilded-bronze Lupa chair by the Campana Brothers and a custom sculptural chaise that rivals the art on view. “The chaise creates an important counterpoint to the rest of the room, which is dominated by more-rounded forms,” says de Cárdenas, whose restless intelligence has found a match in these knowing clients.

“The very simple round coffee table at the room’s center anchors and animates the space in a number of ways. The tabletop is satin mirror, so it saturates the room with soft refractions and also creates effects with objects placed on top — for example, the Jeff Koons Split Rocker vase.”

Key design move?

“The custom chaise adjacent to the windows creates an important counterpoint to the rest of the room, which is dominated by more rounded forms. And the artworks in this room — by Cy Twombly, Glenn Ligon, Donald Moffett and Koons, among others — are all extraordinary. The placement of important artworks in a casual-feeling, informal context suggests a room for living.”

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