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.
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.”
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.”
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.