Stepping into a Rafael de Cárdenas-designed space is like stumbling into a parallel, postmodernist universe, where the standard perception of a room is challenged, stretched past its normal limitations. With an intense palate of colors and an oft-dizzying array of patterns, Cárdenas, founder of the New York design agency Rafael de Cárdenas Ltd. / Architecture at Large, creates an explosive 3-dimensional experience by cutting up and dividing surfaces in ways that make them wholly new.
It is this penchant for the interactive that drew the attention of Nordstrom, who plucked up the architect for their recently launched “Pop-in” series, an immersive shopping experience curated by their new Director of Creative Projects, Olivia Kim, previously of Opening Ceremony. The ongoing series kicks things off with “French Fling,” which is packed to the brim with all things très français.
In close collaboration with Nordstrom, Cárdenas distilled the essence of Paris in its most simple form—the sharp geometry of boxwood hedging, the iron trellis of the Eifel Tower, that instantly recognizable Oui. Cárdenas saw it as an opportunity to create an indoor park, a temporary labyrinth, so to speak. Work your way through the Cárdenas-designed maze and stumble upon a Kenzo sweater, a Diptyque candle, Repetto ballet flats.
Coming up with the inspiration wasn’t a stretch for the architect. Cárdenas, with a smattering of Parisian clients, has long been familiar with the city itself. “I have a completely unabashed love for being an American in Paris. I don’t just love Paris; I love being an American in Paris. The French are cultural aesthetes, and I love that about them. But I also kind of love being a bull in a China shop.”
Combining the best of both worlds (Olivia Kim’s favorite French products and Cárdenas’ American design) the “Pop-in” series will bring Paris to you. You won’t even have to cross the Atlantic or, you know, feel like a bull in a China shop.