MDS- How would you define your style?
CA- My style is definitely of an academic, intellectual nature, with quality being of utmost importance over quantity. I design in a curatorial manner, from the point of view understanding objects and space grounded in architecture.
MDS- Where did you grow up and how do you think that influences your work?
CA- I have led a very transient life. I was born in Cuba, but at age one my family had to leave the country due to political unrest and communism. We ended up in Puerto Rico where I spent the rest of my childhood, until the age of 15 when I moved to the United States to attend school. With so much migration throughout my life I have found the memories of beauty, light and the air of Puerto Rico to be a refuge that can bring solace to an unfamiliar environment. You will see in my work the influence of lots and lots of light.
MDS- If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
CA- I’d be a spy. Politics, and the intrigue that comes with it, was such a huge part of mine and my family’s lives… I’m fascinated with people and their lives, so I’d definitely want to be a spy.
MDS- Who or what is inspiring you right now?
CA- I’m not ever really influenced by the “new.” I find that revisiting the past constantly inspires me in the present. I obsess over those moments when the past inspires something fresh and dynamic like it did in the work of 19th Century Neoclassical German architect Friedrich Schinkel and French designer Jean Michel Frank of the 1920s era.
MDS- What is the favorite room in your home?
CA- My living room in Miami… I love it so much that I find myself just sitting or standing in the middle of it, mesmerized. It’s home; it’s beautiful; and it’s filled with lots and lots and lots of light. There’s a stability there that I find nowhere else. I love how the coral stone floor absorbs light rather than allowing it to bounce off, which adds a particular warmth and sense of security to the environment.
MDS- Is there anything you obsessively collect?
CA- I suppose you could say I “collect” furniture as I buy it daily. I don’t really “collect” specific things. But I love items from private, individual sales. Items that have a history, a broken history, that tells a story about the piece and those that have owned it.
MDS- Fill in the blank: “I could never own too many__________”
CA- I could never own too many…”Jean-Michel Frank pieces.”
MDS- If you could decorate anyone’s house, whose would it be and why?
CA- An American Embassy in another country would be an interesting project. Such design should be an invitation into a culture. The challenge, and the opportunity, would be to represent America in a way that celebrated its diversity and complexity rather than rely on a bland and traditional formula.
MDS- What do you want to be known for?
CA- Bringing intellect to interior design, maybe making it as respected for its academic nature as well as its beauty. I’d like to erase the line between architecture and interiors, bringing a “brainy” side to interiors.
MDS- What do you think is chic, stylish and glamorous?
CA- “Chic” is a heightened form of beauty. It’s elusive and intrinsic. Chic is confidence that is part of one’s DNA, they either have it or they don’t, and it’s very rare in that sense. “Chic” is not a word I use often, as I feel it is reserved for only the most special of special.