Growing up in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood as the eldest of four, Alfredo Paredes seized opportunities when his parents weren’t home to lead (unsanctioned) interior design projects. He directed his siblings to help him move furniture, rehang pictures, then put everything back. Surprisingly, there wasn’t much pushback from his mom and dad. “Generally, everything always looked better,” he recalls. As a kid, he had an interest in “all things creative and artistic,” so it makes sense that by the time he landed in New York at age 24 (after stints in Atlanta and Washington, DC) his role at Ralph Lauren was multifaceted.
Paredes started with the brand doing visuals, store development, and design, his role expanding to oversee the home collection, building his own team, and designing some of the most famous hospitality spaces in the world. “One of my friends said to me, ‘You’re like the most known unknown designer,’” he says, noting that familiarity extends to his projects, rather than his name. There’s Polo Bar on New York’s Fifth Avenue, which he recalls stepping into and thinking, “I am actually opening a restaurant in a basement.”
By the time he finished, though, it couldn’t have felt further from a subterranean setting, with walls clad in warm wood paneling, rich leather banquettes, and vintage equine art prints sourced from Lexington, Kentucky. Paredes also created Ralph’s Paris (transforming a former government office into the chic eatery) and Ralph’s Coffee with its recognizable green and white interiors. He describes the beginning of his creative process as premonitions. “Not in a psychic way,” he clarifies, “but it feels [like] that. I just know where to take things.”
In December 2018, after 33 years with Ralph Lauren, he felt the era coming to an end. He took a year sabbatical before launching Alfredo Paredes Studio, his multidisciplinary venture that spans residential and hospitality interiors. “I have the best mentor in the world, Ralph Lauren. He has this vision and view of the world [to] ‘dream a little,’” Paredes adds.
There’s his furniture collaboration with EJ Victor. Handmade in North Carolina, the 50-piece (and growing) collection is characterized by oversized silhouettes and rich materiality including solid oak, walnut, and leather. And there are recently completed retail projects like CBD boutique Dragon Hemp Apothecary in Sag Harbor, New York, and modern coastal restaurant Dune in Fort Lauderdale, helmed by Michelin-starred chef Laurent Tourondel, which are just a preview of what’s to come. Although it is now Paredes’ name on the door, two things haven’t changed: his unwillingness to limit himself and his favorite part of his work. “You dream something and then you bring it to reality. It’s like a puzzle.”
This article originally appeared in HD’s April 2023 issue.