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A long bookshelf stretched across one wall of the living room reveals de Cardenas’s varied interests: It’s filled with shelter magazines like the now-defunct cult publication Nest, the Domus anthology, old National Geographics, and — spanning the entire middle shelf — a collection of trashy sci-fi novels that once were the designer’s guilty pleasure. “They're the kind of thing I get in airports, because they’re poorly written and easy to read,” he says. “It’s not Ray Bradbury; I buy them for like 99 cents and steal them from bed and breakfasts. They're a form of escapism, but I don’t read them anymore, to be honest, because now I read the New Yorker and the Economist.” Treasures atop the shelf include Massimo Vignelli’s 1971 subway map and a poster from the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, which de Cardenas put there for color.