Rafael de Cárdenas, Ltd.
Sometimes the appeal of a room lies as much in what’s not there as in what is. This showroom in downtown Manhattan, conjured by architect Rafael de Cárdenas (left) and firm partner and design director, Robert Passov, for fashion designer Ulla Johnson, is a study in reductive luxury. Hand-troweled plaster walls give the space a cloudlike sense of movement and, says de Cárdenas, “a slight shimmering warmth,” which his custom velvet sofa and a marble table by Angelo Mangiarotti accentuate with color (the sofa) and texture (the table). Though additional seating is scarce and lighting is limited to Ingo Maurer’s poetic bamboo pendant lamp, the room feels radiantly complete, with or without Kazunori Hamana’s heroic stoneware vessel in the foreground.
“Comfort is key, of course, but discomfort can keep you on your toes — and sometimes you want that.”
— Rafael de Cárdenas