Rafael de Cárdenas creates Neon Jungle as Maison&Objet Americas Designer of the Year 2016

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Mirrored blocks, neon lights and tropical plants are combined to form this "prismatic oasis" by Rafael de Cárdenas, who has been named Designer of the Year at the Maison&Objet Americas 2016 fair (+ slideshow).

The US designer installed his Neon Jungle in the Miami Design District to mark the occasion of the award.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

Its opening yesterday coincided with the first day of this year's Maison&Objet Americas – a relatively new offshoot of the established biannual Paris trade fair.

The space is designed to look like a nightclub, complete with a bar and DJ booth, but also sells ice lollies or popsicles.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

"I think Miami is a fitting place for a series of platforms, plants, neon and rum," de Cárdenas told Dezeen.

The designer was originally given a booth at the trade fair, but wanted to create a public installation so he asked the design district if they had a spare space.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

In the room, modular black and white blocks form a central two-tiered platform for visitors to lounge on. Palm trees sprout from the middle of the deck, illuminated by ever-changing coloured lights.



The installation and lighting are reflected in the four vertical mirrored volumes that act as partitions. These cuboids are edged with purple neon strips, adding to the disco feel.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

Yellow neon is used for a sign behind the DJ at the back, forming a logo from de Cárdenas' initials and the acronym of his studio Architecture at Large.

The multidisciplinary firm was founded in 2006. Headquartered in New York, it has completed projects including the 2010 OHWOW Book Club in the city and the 2011 Unknown Union menswear store in Cape Town. Other clients include Cartier, Baccarat, Ford Models and Nike.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

"Over the course of the last 10-15 years, I've developed a sort of language of debauchery and partiness," said de Cárdenas. "Although I myself don't do those things any more, I like to encourage vices in others."

Much of his work features plenty of bold colours and grid-like patterns.

"There's a bag of tricks that we always sample from," de Cardenas said. "I'm always looking at Verner Panton's Fantasy Landscape Room, things like that. Pop culture really informs all of my design."

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

Neon Jungle will be open from 10 to 15 May 2016 at 160 NE 40th Street, in Miami Design District. "Then it's going to trash," de Cardenas added.

The district has been revived by local developer Craig Robins over the past 10 years, and is now home to fashion boutiques opened by brands including Dior and Tom Ford. It also boasts a retail complex designed by Sou Fujimoto.

Neon Jungle installation by Rafael de Cardenas in Miami Design District

The second edition of Maison&Objet Americas takes place at the Miami Beach Convention Center from 10 to 13 May 2016. The exhibition venue, which also hosts the Art Basel Miami Beach fair every December, is currently undergoing renovation work overseen by OMA.

Photography is by Kris Tamburello.