Raquel Cayre.
Photo: Amy Lombard

Raquel Cayre

The visionary behind the popular Ettore Sottsass Instagram account is extending her influence beyond social media

Few people have parlayed a viral Instagram account into a successful business venture as artfully as Raquel Cayre, the New York furniture advisor who founded the popular handle @EttoreSottsass. The social media feed has racked up an impressive 124,000 followers by showcasing the revolutionary design spirit of Italy’s Memphis Milano movement.

Two years ago, she hosted Raquel’s Dream House, a pop-up show that filled a four-story SoHo townhouse with collectible pieces based on her colorful feed. But it’s Cayre’s recent turn as curator of the “Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong” exhibition at R & Company that has the design world eagerly awaiting her next big move.

R & Company’s “Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong,” an exhibition curated by Raquel Cayre. Photo: R & Company

Unlikely start: “I went to college to play tennis and study physical therapy. In my third year I realized I didn’t want to be a therapist, so I took some time off and went to Europe with my mom, who has always been into vintage furniture. I discovered Sottsass at a Paris flea market. I found an Ultrafragola mirror and purchased it as soon as I got my own apartment.” 

Big Dealer: “A lot of artists and designers were following the Sottsass Instagram, so I started full-on selling Memphis furniture with help from Keith Johnson, the exclusive distributor. I sold Daniel Arsham some Memphis Milano lamps, and Katherine Bernhardt bought an Ultrafragola mirror from the Dream House.”

Showstopper: “Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong” came to life when I saw One and Three Chairs by Joseph Kosuth at the Pompidou. It was a way to convince artists to do the show because I wasn’t asking them to make a functional chair. A lot of artists went above and beyond. Photographer Heji Shin doesn’t make chairs, but she said ‘Yes,’ and came through with an X-ray of a baby on a chair. It was fun to see who took it literally. I got great feedback.”

R & Company’s “Chairs Beyond Right & Wrong,” an exhibition curated by Raquel Cayre. Photo: R & Company

Chair Game: “Chairs don’t need a specific spot, like a bed or a dining table—they can be functional, sculptural, anything you want them to be. It’s not like chairs are a new trend either; every designer has made one. I’m obsessed with that.”

Property Geek: “I’m a real estate junkie. I love seeing amazing houses by great architects and designers, especially in L.A. with the Case Study houses and homes by Frank Lloyd Wright. I like doing that more than going to an art gallery because you can see how people mix art and design.”

The Appeal of Memphis: “Growing up, my mom’s taste was pretty structured and glamorous. When I moved out, Memphis was a way for me to make my mark with things I wanted to live with. My mom thought my place was like Tom Hanks’s apartment in Big.

A five-part silkscreen by Michel Majerus lines a wall within Raquel’s Dream House; the Memphis Milano boxing ring is by Masanori Umeda. Photo: Nicole Cohen/Courtesy of Raquel Cayre

Travel Itinerary: “The next place I want to go is Mexico City—straight to Luis Barragán House and Studio!”

Next Move: “I have no idea. It’s up in the air and always changing. But I want the next project to be another ‘Dream House,’ and I will definitely curate another show. I don’t ever want to sit behind a desk.”

A version of this article first appeared in print in our 2019 Spring Issue under the headline Creative Minds. Subscribe to the magazine.

Newsletter

Sign up to receive the best in art, design, and culture from Galerie

Thank You
Your first newsletter will arrive shortly.