Recently, I was at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York representing Rapson-Inc. and enjoying the fun showing of the new Loll Rapson Line by Loll Designs (now available!).
Anyway, there was a lot of fantastic furniture there at ICFF, but among all that great design work, some of the contemporary furniture seemed to have gotten lost and crossed the line into purely visual art. Examples from ICFF (no names named):
1) One booth had some striking white chairs that almost glowed, but the chairs themselves were roped off and had big signs saying 'DO NOT TOUCH' Presumably, you couldn't sit in a chair without leaving an imprint of your posterior and/or hands. A chair like with a finish like that always has special appeal to buyers without bodies.
2) Another booth had a very intricate and beautiful one-piece wooden teeter-totter. I happened to be walking by when one of the very few kids at ICFF reached out to touch it. The creator of the teeter-totter leapt to intervene with a decidedly forced smile and mumbled, "I'm sorry, but you can't touch this." Perfectly reasonable when 'this' happens to be a Ming vase; well into farce when 'this' is a teeter-totter.
In contrast, we very much want the Rapson chairs we make to be put into active use. Sure, you may not have your own helicopter and/or indoor garden plot as Ralph famously drew in his renderings of Case Study House #4, but we think the good people who buy and use our modern classics should expect them to enhance their busy lives - not constrain them.
Toby Rapson, Ralph's son and the owner of Rapson-Inc., once told me that "Kids are a great test for a design. Kids don't like furniture because it's supposed to be cool, but they can't help but be drawn to it if it is cool." Along with (of course) Rapson Rockers as evidence, Toby also cited Eero Saarinen's Womb Chair (still in production by our friends at Knoll) as a great example of a wonderful design that passes the kid test: When kids see it in a room they have to try it out. Toby should know. He has four (now grown) boys and a still-beautiful Saarinen Womb Chair in his living room.
So, in case your active life - like mine - involves the even more active lives of your kids, I wanted to pass on a few snapshots from my house that show that my kids not only can use Rapson furniture, but seem to be drawn to it. Other than the furniture and our happily cluttered Rapson house, the main star of this show is my son, who's just learning to read.
As versatile as it is comfortable, the Rapson Rapid Rocker can also provide a strangely manacing backdrop should you need to stage a pitched battle among toys. In this instance, it was Large Lego Robot vs. the Alliance of the Green Plastic Soldiers and Random Board Game Pieces that Use Easter Eggs as Bombs. I'm not sure who won, but it wasn't Christianity.
The only defense I can offer of the reading material in this picture is that my son may have chosen it as a meta-protest against 'Chick Lit' becoming an accepted genre of contemporary fiction. Obviously, he's brilliant.... Incidentally, we love the funky new version of the Rapson Rapid Rocker for YLiving in the background with Verner Panton's Unisol fabric from Maharam.
A chair definitely passes the 'kid test for good design' when a mopey Kindergartener seeks it out after breaking his collar bone early in the baseball season. The second pair of specs aren't just for looks; he's reading Star Wars 3D.
- Chris Reedy for Rapson-Inc.