Dr. Rosa Otero is the Director, Designer and Curator for the Chair Library at Salem College.
A collaborative effort between the Sutton Initiative for Design Education (S.I.D.E.) and Salem College, the Chair Library is a unique resource that no other college or university in the country has assembled. Students can touch, sit, sketch, photograph, study, and be inspired by the collection. Located in the Robert E. Elberson Fine Arts Center, The library houses 45 chairs considered iconic by designers and furniture historians alike. Dr. Otero is also the Director of the Design and Visual & Performing Arts Programs at Salem College
What’s one thing — either industry/work-related or not — you learned in the past month?
Something that one of my students said to me: “If you like it, it is never out of style”. We tend to pay too much attention to styles and trends that we forget about the importance of finding what we truly love, who we are, and what makes us happy.
If you could trade places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
Nobody specific comes to mind, but I think I would have loved to trade places with someone that attended a 19th century World’s Fair; either the 1851 World’s Fair in London so I could be inside the Crystal Palace (perhaps even run into Dickens or Darwin) or the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and visit some of the buildings that were shaping the landscape of major cities in the US (not necessarily for the good). I have always been fascinated with works of industry and architecture.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee 100%- I am from Puerto Rico so I have no choice, it’s in my DNA.
My favorite genre is historical fiction. I find myself reading books written by women about strong female characters – I recently enjoyed Maggie O’Farrell’s the Marriage Portrait and Xochitl Gonzalez, Olga Dies Dreaming.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
I always wanted to teach and design; but I also thought about being a journalist.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of an academic museum?
The unexpected opportunities that it brings, sometimes a unique visitor or an interesting inquiry about our collection. I particularly love the excitement of first-time visitors. But by far, what I enjoy the most is working with the students that visit and use our facility every day.
What are your hopes for our industry?
More funding to be able to provide access to groups that might be hard to reach. Perhaps by creating more programming and partnerships with the community.
Bonus: Do you have a favorite joke to share?
Due to my love for chairs, I find this clip often in my lectures- making fun of one of my favorite chairs, the Barcelona, as the “world’s most uncomfortable chair,” even though the characters on the video think that it looks “awesome.”