Rapson Modern Birdhouse Now Available!
We love that Ralph drew this modern birdhouse so that it carries the signature rakish roofline of many of his best-known modern houses and churches. And, yes, it's a duplex, so just perfect for multigenerational housing. Add in the conscience-clearing construction in recycled materials and you might as well get a peck of these:
We've been a bit quiet on the blog but aren't stopping our work to bring out more of the great designs that RR left behind. We won't go into details now, but it looks like a banner year for Rapson designs with more new pieces being introduced/re-introduced than at any time since the original Rapson Line debuted for H.G. Knoll in 1945. What's coming? More new outdoor pieces by Loll Designs and the beginnings of a whole new Rapson Line by another great Midwest furniture company...Can't wait to tell you more.
In the meantime, here are a few more shots of the Rapson Modern Birdhouse so you can get a feel for this up/down bird bungalow:
Ralph Rapson was a man who loved a good party. And although he was not here to celebrate the 100th anniversary of his September 13, 1914 birth, his friends, family, colleagues, and admirers found plenty of ways to recognize the big event with Rapsonian style and flair. On the eve of Ralph’s birthday, revelries kicked off at Rapson Hall at the University of Minnesota with a panoramic group photo of scores of mature and responsible adults wearing DIY paper Rapson mustaches.
As well as the party, a few smart people at RR's beloved University of Minnesota realized that Ralph’s centennial presented an opportunity to showcase his talents and accomplishments. Two Rapson exhibitions opened at the University in the early fall and will run through early 2015.
At Rapson Hall, Rapson at 100: Process | Themes | Variations takes a close look at Ralph’s creative thinking and use of drawing as a design tool through three projects, including his Glass Cube, the Rapson family retreat in rural Amery, Wisconsin. The energy and inventiveness of these drawings is something to behold:
A more extensive exhibition at the Andersen Library, Ralph Rapson: A Legacy in Architecture and Design draws from the Ralph Rapson Papers at the Northwest Architectural Archives to provide a broader view of his years in Minnesota beginning in 1954. (Materials from Rapson’s pre-1954 career are housed at the Cranbrook Archives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.) The breadth of this exhibit is amazing. We think RR would love this snapshot of his design career:
Among the original drawings included in the show are three of Rapson’s façade studies for the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre (1963) as well as many other striking renderings and models of his designs, both both built and unrealized. For anyone who's ever marveled at RR's design for St. Peter's Church, the drawings and model of the roof line are a real treat:
No Rapson exhibit would be complete without chairs (obviously). The Andersen Library exhibit features two: a Highback Rapson Greenbelt™ Rocker in walnut and black leather, and a red Rapson Cave Chair by Loll Designs:
So, Happy Birthday, Ralph. We tried to think of everything to make this the special celebration you deserve. The only thing that’s missing is you.
This blog was guest-written by Jane King Hession, one of Ralph's accomplished biographers as well as a true friend to Ralph Rapson, Rapson Architects, and Rapson-Inc.
Perched on the quiet bluffs above Wisconsin's Apple River, the iconic Rapson “Glass Cube” recently played host to a collaborative invasion by the Minneapolis-based band “Greycoats”, videographer Nate Matson, and numerous roadies. The event was part of Nate’s recent project “Spaces”, a series of music videos highlighting popular bands within their creative process; this was a foray out of the studio and into a visual and radical sound box.
Not only were the resident eagles soaring close for a curious look, a passing thunderstorm layered in some serious sound effects sure to please. We hope the sound man found its rumbling as opportune as we did, as we thought they added wonderfully to Greycoat’s engaging style that City Pages writer Rob Van Alstyne said shows an “appetite for the unusual”.
Ralph Rapson would have been intrigued by the use of what he considered his place of retreat. For over 30 years he welcomed others to share in its beauty and experience the tangible influence the rolling hills and his “cube” within those hills impart on the consciousness. Adding in a little great music was a wonderful new twist. The fact that Greycoats are effectively the in-house band for high-energy Rapson retailer Forage Modern Workshop made the whole idea of the recorded jam session just too cool to pass up.
Lead singer Jon Reine appears contemplative and content while “taking five” in the Rapson Cave Chair by Loll Designs.
The Rapson family has a new-found appreciation for the amount of equipment necessary to record, film, light, and create beautiful music. In turn, I hope the crew is appreciative of the clapping (for the great music) and slapping (as a result of the mosquito invasion that took place after hauling in and out said equipment). I fondly remember Ralph harping—“quick, close the screen doors before the local population joins us”. Thanks, Greycoats (Jon, Titus, Mike, and Matt) for an interesting day, and of course, thanks to Ralph for providing a great hang-out.
We are so thrilled that two Rapson Greenbelt Chairs were included in this great new exhibit on the New Bauhaus in Chicago.
The exhibit, housed at the Ukrainian Institute for Modern Art, highlights the role of the New Bauhaus designers in Chicago in the late 1930s and 1940s, when Ralph Rapson was practicing in Chicago and teaching at the school.
We at Rapson-Inc. are hoping for a road trip in September to see it for ourselves, but here are a few pics of the exhibit in case you can't make it to Chicago:
George Heinrich is a Minneapolis based photographer whose exceptional work was much admired by Ralph. He has photographed for both the Children's Theater and the Jungle Theater. His photo's have graced the covers of Architecture Magazine and Architecture Minnesota.
We here at Rapson-Inc. are very excited to introduce our latest retailer, Markanto. Based in Cologne, Germany, it has established itself as a premier European retailer of unique designer furnishings, both current and vintage, and ships across the EU.
Now featuring Rapson Greenbelt® Line, Ralph Rapson is the latest Cranbrook Academy alumni whose designs are sold at Markanto. (In the 1940s-50s, the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan was known as the hotbed of American modernism. Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Ray and Charles Eames, and Florence Schust Knoll are a few of Rapson's best-known classmates and colleagues from his Cranbrook years.)
Sven Vorderstrase, the Markanto owner/manager, graciously took time for an interview with us just as Markanto's Rock It Baby exhibition in Cologne was in full swing:
In the 90s of the last century I was personally already interested in design classics. I loved the Bauhaus design, specially the tubular steel furniture, which was very popular at this time. Getting deeper and deeper in this stories, I recognized many other great designers, their creations or their stories.
I see Markanto opened in 1999. How has your business evolved over the years and where would you like it to go in the future?
At the beginning we had another business model: The idea was to be a platform for vintage design originals for dealers and collectors (like maybe today Deconet or Designaddict). We had over 1.000 vintage products published at this time on our web page. But the time was too early; dealers did not update us with information or response; and for many dealers the web was an enemy! But today we still offer a nice collection of vintage originals for museums and collectors.
So we started one year later as a second step with a web shop of design classics in current production. We were the first online dealer for many important design brands like Knoll, Vitra or Zanotta in the German market. Then we started our own re-editions, too – this include the re-edition of the carpet collection from Knoll International by Sigrid Wylach. She designed in the 70s for almost every furniture group of Knoll a special carpet, and this collection was very popular in Europe. But this collection was not sold in America, that's the reason that the nice collection is not published in the literature about Knoll.
And nearly every year we make now a special version of a design classic with one of our partners, like a limited version of the Ball clock from George Nelson with Vitra, an Art Deco version of the stool 60 with Artek or a collector version of the seating object Otto by Peter Raacke (one of the first furniture in cardboard from the 60s).
I love the Rock It Baby exhibition you organized for January 2013. What feedback did you get from attendees about the Rapson Greenbelt Rocker?
Thank you for the compliment! In the last years we made already some exhibitions about STOOLS for example or last year about architects chairs in co-operation with the design museum in Cologne. So the idea came to us, to make this year's Markanto exhibition about rocking chairs, where we show designs by Panton, Tapiovaara, Guhl, Eames, Wegner – and Ralph Rapson. Many people liked the idea of this concept and came to see the exhibition. The Ralph Rapson rocking chairs were a big surprise – because I think, they were shown for the first time in Germany (because they were never part of the Knoll collection in Germany).
I think, that there are not many really good rocking chairs, and the Greenbelt rockers are one of the best designs. I like especially the combination of American walnut and the cotton. It is timeless. We are proud to present the Rapson collection in Germany.
I know this is a terribly hard question to answer, but if you had to choose a favourite piece or designer, what/who would it be?
That is really not an easy question! I love the period of the last mid century. At this time, many great designers made milestones like Eames with the first plastic chairs, George Nelson with the wall clocks, Eero Saarinen with the Tulip Chairs and many more. But I don't have an all time favourite piece, this changes every quarter – at the moment it is a fantastic vintage radio from Braun.
[All photos sourced from and property of Markanto.de]
The Markanto showroom is located in the South of the city, only 15 minutes away from Cologne Central Station.
Just in time for Summer Rapson and Duluth outdoor furniture manufacturer Loll Designs partnered to produce the Greenbelt chairs in recycled plastic. The Loll outdoor line expands on Ralph’s tradition of using the socially conscious materials, producing furniture using recycled milk bottles. Few Modern designers delved into the outdoor furniture realm, but was Ralph always ahead of his time. Working for Knoll he designed the Equipment For Living line, using manufacturing materials available in excess after the wars - Aluminum and Bronze. Loll’s durable outdoor furniture joins good design and ethical values (and a wallop of fun).
Are these not the most handsome outdoor chairs ever produced? I am still not certain how many recycled milk jugs it takes to make one chair, but I am certain that I love Loll and their vibrant seats!
2012 boasted many new partnerships for Rapson-Inc. If you are traveling in any of these cities, search out these stores; They are wonderful for experiencing fun and exciting design in person, and are also invariably located in the cities’ cultural hotspot.
Forage modern workshop in Minneapolis who provide customers, with not just handsome furniture, but are also an “idea shop,” a place for new design--especially from the midwest. This mobile is available from their online store (I have a love for mobiles nurtured by growing up around Ralph’s collection).
One of the most recent additions to our showrooms is Markanto in Germany. Yes you read that right, Rapson furniture is now available overseas. Markanto has an exhaustive list of furniture by nearly every modern designer. If you are looking for furniture in Germany, you have found it.
Wojo Works in Spokane Washington is a spunky furniture and gifts store. They specialize in selling not just classy designs, but classy designs with personality. Their fun sense of humor comes through quickly browsing their online store.
One of the most exciting exhibitions we were able to do this year was at new retailer Two Jakes in New York City. The show in May featured many of Ralph’s drawing’s and also featured the introduction of the Rapson Line of Outdoor furniture with Loll Designs. Two Jakes’ great showroom (best of NY according to New York Magazine) can be found in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. If you are in the Big Apple stop by and tell them Rapson-Inc. sent ya!
The designs of Verner Panton are some of the most recognizable and well known to come from Denmark during the 1950’s and 60’s. Panton is probably best known for his design of the S chair and shell lamps, but in addition to home furnishings he also designed a number of fabric prints. One of the best known fabrics designed by Panton was Geometri I, originally for the Hotel Astoria in Trondheim, it along with many of Panton’s prints would help to define the look of the 1960’s (See the hotel below). One Panton print that still looks fresh today is his 1965 print Unisol 001. The fabric can be found on the Rapson Rapid Rocker offered exclusively through our partnership with YLiving.
YLiving Exculsive Rapson® Rapid Rocker Unison Print
The Hotel Astoria in Panton Geometri I
Iconic Panton 1950's-70's prints
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