Highlights of 2012: New Retail Partners

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted January 09, 2013 in 2012, Boomerang for modern, favorite moments, Forage Modern Workshop, highlights, Mid2Mod, Midcentury Furniture, midcentury modern, minneapolis, Minnesota, Mod Livin, modern furniture, New York, NYC, Spokane, Texas, Two Jakes, warsaw, wojo works

 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).


ModLivin in Denver features a large showroom of furniture and a fun selection of furniture both new and classic. If you act fast they also have a supply of Stendig iconic wall calendars (baby not included).



Mid2Mod in dallas sells the best new and vintage furniture, lighting and household accessories. If you are shopping in Texas, this is the place to do it. As a case in point, they are the only retailer of Bend designs (cool table below) in the South US and the only dealer for Rapson in Texas.  


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. 


Boomerang for Modern in San Diego has been ‘bringing back’ good design since 1985. Located in the Little Italy district, they have three floors of stunning new and vintage furniture. In addition to a blog featuring new furniture finds, their website also has a great section of interior design projects they have consulted on (including one at the ubiquitous Stahl house). 



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!


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Rapson-Inc. favorite moments of 2012: Articles in both the New York and L.A. Times

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted January 03, 2013 in 2012, favorite moments, LA, Loll, Loll Designs, Minnesota, modern furniture, Modern Outdoor Furniture, new product, New York, NYC, outdoor, outdoor furniture, plastic, Press

In June of this year the LA Times ran a story featuring the outdoor furniture partnership between Loll and Rapson-Inc. Not to be outdone, the New York Times ran an article soon after titled, “Outdoor Furniture's Colorful Bloom,” featuring a number of pieces including the Loll Rapson low back lounge in sky blue. Kudos to the papers' fine journalists, and cheers to another year of good press.







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Retailer Spotlight: Mid2Mod

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted October 21, 2012 in Deep Ellum, Mid2Mod, midcentury, midcentury furniture, midcentury modern, modern furniture, Ralph Rapson, Rapson Greenbelt Line, Rapson Inc., Rapson Rocker, Texas

Not too long ago, a trio of chairs from the Rapson Greenbelt Line made the journey from Minneapolis down to the Deep Ellum neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. Mid2Mod is a relatively recent addition to the scene there, specializing in great vintage furniture, and also the best new designs for the home. Joe Eggleston, pictured below, owns the shop with his wife, Jennifer, and his mother-in-law, Dana, keeps their blog fresh with a bottomless pool of all things mid-century, featuring beautiful photos and articles about the 'greats' and the equally great lesser-known designers from then and now. Dana recently published a lovely article on the watercolors of Ralph Rapson (Travel watercolorsOctober 18). The detail and life in his sketches never cease to amaze me. I want to thank Joe and Dana for taking time out of their days for this interview. It is always so interesting to hear the personal stories behind people's businesses and passions, so thanks again.


  


Tell me about Mid2Mod's beginnings. When and how did you get your start in the mid-century modern furniture retail business?

My wife Jennifer, my mother-in-law Dana, and I opened a mid-century booth at an antique mall in early 2010, which turned out to be a time-consuming hobby rather than a profitable business, so when our lease was up in November, we had a huge yard sale and got rid of our inventory. After three grueling days of selling, I looked at my pregnant wife and my exhausted mother-in-law and said, "Be honest. Aren't you going to miss selling mid-century furniture?" At first they thought I was joking, but that very night we started tossing around plans to have a store, and four months later, I quit my job as a data analyst and opened Mid2Mod. What started as a vintage store has grown to include exceptional new furniture too, such as the Rapson-Inc line. One of our goals is to help customers combine the two in their homes to create a unique personal space.


 


Deep Ellum sounds like a lively artistic neighborhood, and a perfect place to open Mid2Mod. What is it you like most about the area?

What I like most about Deep Ellum is its eclectic nature. There are all types of stores, restaurants and music venues here, and everyone is welcome. I also love the rich history of the neighborhood. It was established as an industrial district in the 1800s and was home to a cotton gin and a Ford automobile plant, but its real claim to fame is its importance as a jazz and blues scene in the 1920s, hosting the likes of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leadbelly Ledbetter and Bessie Smith.

 

In your opinion, what is the most interesting mid-century piece to pass through Mid2Mod's doors?

My favorite piece was a George Nelson Comprehensive Storage System (CSS) wall unit, but Dana would probably say her favorite was an orange daybed by Richard Schultz for Knoll. She was trying to talk herself into buying it, but a customer got there first. She still grieves the loss.


Who is your favorite 20th century designer and why?

Naturally, Ralph Rapson is one of my favorites, which is why I decided to start carrying the line in my store. Another favorite is Poul Kjærholm. I love the simplicity of his design, and the matte finish he used on steel makes his pieces really stand out.




Finally, what do you like about the Rapson-Inc line?

Again, I come back to the idea that nothing is more elegant than simplicity. What could be more uncomplicated and beautiful than the curves of a Ralph Rapson chair? I like that the line stays true to its 70-year-old roots, yet has evolved to meet today’s needs. But, most of all, I love that Rapson designs combine a combination comfort level/coolness factor that appeals to everyone from 18 to 80.





Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc. 

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Modern Retailer Spotlight: Mod Livin'

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted July 05, 2012 in Denver Design, Denver Modernism, Mod Livin, modern furniture, Modern Living, Ralph Rapson, Rapson Rapid Rocker, Rapson Rocker, Rapson-Inc.


The very hip Mod Livin' in Denver has recently signed on as a retailer of Rapson-Inc. designs. Mod Livin' was started by husband and wife team, Erick & Jill, with the intent to provide the Rocky Mountain area with a resource of modern design. Their selection ranges from things within reach to the college student to the high-end pieces that would appeal to the avid collector. I have such a fun time browsing their website, which sells all the classics and great new pieces by up-and-coming designers. Store Manager, Amanda Lezan, was kind enough to fill out a short Q & A with thoughtful replies that reflect the personable nature of their company. We are absolutely thrilled to be working with them! 


1. I see you opened your doors in 2001. Congratulations on over 10 years in the business! What initially drove Erick & Jill to open Mod Livin'?  

 

Jill first started out over 20 years ago entirely because she’s loved furniture and home design for as long as she can remember. The first iteration was with a small shop on the other side of Denver selling vintage exclusively, this seemed like a nice side project and a great excuse for both she & Erick to get out of town regularly on their scouting trips to & fro across the country. They were received amazingly well by Denver and saw the opportunity to parlay the small operation into something bigger.  Not a pair to walk away from a good thing (it also helps that they are two of the hardest working people you will ever meet), they began the search for a bigger piece of real estate.  Mod Livin’ opened its doors on East Colfax in 2001 with the ‘infant’ version (as Erick likes to call it) of the website first launching in 2002. 

 

 

2. Mod Livin' has such a wonderful selection of home accessories. How do you keep up with all the new designers? Do you have your eye on anyone new to the scene?

 

Thank you!  It can be tricky (which I realize is a lovely complaint to have).  I recently returned from a trip to NYC & Brooklyn with a laundry list of addresses to call on in my pocket; for five days I couldn’t quit smiling.  There are some fantastic minds out there adding to the foundation which greats like Ralph Rapson established.  I also think there’s been a revival in people calibrating their lives and patterns around modern design, once again we’re embracing that less is more and it’s plain to see that thinking is funneling energy into the design community.

 

Aside from that, I think we probably do what everyone else does; try to get to both ICFF and the Milan Furniture Show and lurk around online (Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy, and MoCo Loco are permanently bookmarked).

 

As for new to the scene, we’re thrilled we get to be a part of the reintroduction of Rapson.  It’s a beautiful thing when you can introduce a classic to a new generation.

 

3. Being surrounded by beautiful objects day in and day out, I imagine it would be tough to pick a favourite, but if you had to pick a favourite designer, who would it be and why?

 

This question is why my answers are late to you.  It is impossible to choose one.  Of course everyone at Mod Livin’ loves the legends who initially introduced modern to America in a way that made it entirely accessible, and in a way, friendly.  The names we all know, Eero Saarinen, George Nelson, Harry Bertoia, Charles & Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Russel Wright, and of course Ralph Rapson.  I wouldn’t have this job if it weren’t for those names, they’re our Rushmore.

 

Personally, the last year or so I’ve wanted to buy every piece of Adrianne Pearsall that comes within arm’s length.  I love the exaggerated lines.  The designs are simultaneously whimsical and elegant.  


 

4. The Rapson Greenbelt line of lounge chairs is a fairly new addition to your inventory. If I may ask a leading question, what is it you like about the collection?

I think Rason Inc’s description of the line summed up my feelings perfectly, “…heirloom quality built with a conscience.”  That’s what we’re all after today.  We want heirloom pieces and we refuse to turn a blind eye to the materials and the hands that create them.

 
Amanda, Cinder & the Rapson Rocker

 

5. Lastly, what do you enjoy most about your career with Mod Livin'? 

 

The amazing people I get to work with.  I respect & appreciate everyone here more than I can explain.  Being in an environment that revolves around creativity, design,  art, & history while constantly learning from people who have seen all of the ins & outs of this industry is absolutely as good as it gets in my book.  I learn something (usually several things) every single day.



Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc.

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Good Design: Passing the Kid Test

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted June 11, 2012 in modern furniture, Modern Outdoor Furniture, Modern Rocking Chair, Rapson Rocker, Rapson-Inc.

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.

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Boston, Rapson-Inc. and the Growth of Mass Modern

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted May 29, 2012 in AIA Twenty Five Year Award, Ben Thompson, Boston Modernism, Design Research, Knoll Associates, Modern furniture, Ralph Rapson, Rapson-Inc.

Boston isn't perceived as a hub of Modernism in the way that Palm Springs is, but in reality, the city and its modern retailers played a huge role in the development of Mass Modernism.

Ralph Rapson's drawings usually featured interiors with wildly modern furniture for the time. However, in the earlier part of his career, this furniture was often a sketch of his imagination; the real selection of Modern designs very was limited for Americans in the first years after WWII. 


It was not that modern design had not fully ventured into furniture, but that the gap between high design and the American consumer market had not yet been breached. In 1940, The Museum of Modern Art in New York held a competition entitled, Organic Design in Home Furnishings, for which many of the most iconic mid-century furniture designs were submitted from international architects and designers. In the decade that followed, as many of these designs reached mass production, Ralph Rapson decided to open a store specifically for this type of merchandise. 


Rapson-Inc. opened in 1950 at 282 Dartmouth Street, one block from Copley Square in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. The store sat just steps from some of the greats from the previous architectural eras, such as the Trinitiy Church in the Romanesque Revival style employed by H. H. Richardson and the Italian Renaissance styled Boston Public Library by Charles Follen McKim of McKim, Mead, & White. 

In the beginning, Ralph's wife, Mary, proposed that their stock rely heavily on goods of his own design and other larger pieces on credit from Knoll Associates, with whom he had been collaborating on a number of projects. The long and narrow space acted as a showroom for modern design. Creatively making use of the limited space, Angelo Tasta's fabrics hung full length from the ceiling and Knoll chairs were suspended from the walls. A mock living room arrangement and Rapson-designed storage cabinets were used to show customers how to incorporate modern design into their lives.


Not far away and not long after Rapson-Inc. closed because Ralph had gone to Europe to design a fleet of thoroughly Modern American embassies abroad, another store opened that would become the most influential design store for modern design. Rapson-Inc. was a store success with early adopters of Modernism in Boston, but another store would be the epicenter for Modern design not only in Boston but (arguably) in the whole of the U.S.

Founded in 1953 by architect Ben Thompson, Design Research (D/R) was a retailer of contemporary furnishings, from furniture to dinnerware to clothing. The first store opened on Brattle Street in Harvard Square.  The concept - similar to Rapson-Inc.'s but with a much larger selection - was branded as a "lifestyle store", where patrons could buy nearly anything for their modern lifestyle in a range of prices, from a Joe Columbo chair down to $1 Mexican martini glasses. The store carried designs by the likes of Alvar Aalto, Marcel Breuer, and Charles and Ray Eames, but it favored the European designs, particularily those from Scandinavian. 

Design Research held sole rights in America to sell the Finnish Marimekko fabrics and garments from 1959-76. Jacqueline Kennedy was photographed during her husband's campaign and presidency wearing a number of Marrimekko dresses she purchased at D/R, bringing the until-then unknown Finnish designer to the forefront of American Modernism as the perfect model for the emerging independent woman. 

A second store was designed and built in1969 by Thompson's architectural firm, Benjamin Thompson & Associates, at 48 Brattle Street. Thouroughly modern, the 24,000 sq ft building was constructed of concrete slabs supported by interior concrete columns, with floor-to-ceiling tempered glass exterior walls. In 2003, the building was awarded the AIA Twenty-Five Year Award for "architecture of enduring significance", and although Design Research closed its doors in 1978, its influence is not forgotten. 

Written in part by Jane Thompson - Ben Thompson's widow, founder of I.D Magazine, and an architect and urban planner herself - Design Research: The Store that Brought Modern Living to American Homes documents the whole story of this influential enterprise. 


[photo credit: Wikipedia]


[photo credit: coolhunting.com]


Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc.

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Exhibit of Rapson Drawings Opens in NY May 21

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted May 15, 2012 in drawings, Greenbelt, Loll, modern furniture, Modern Outdoor Furniture, New York, Ralph Rapson, Rapson Inc.

Two Jakes is hosting the first New York showing of the imaginative drawings of early H.G. Knoll designer and renowned architect Ralph Rapson. As well as showcasing stunning drawings of unrealized designs, it marks the national reintroduction of Rapson’s Greenbelt® Line of lounge furniture from Rapson-Inc. and new outdoor versions of the Greenbelt® Line by Loll Designs.

 

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Specifier Spotlight: Kurylowicz and Associates

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted May 11, 2012 in Architecture, Kurylowicz & Associates, mid-century, minneapolis, Modern furniture, poland, Rapson Rocker, Rapson-Inc., warsaw

A custom built Rapson Rocker has arrived to its new owner, Ms. Ewa Kurylowicz in Warsaw, Poland. Ms. Kurylowicz resides in the beautiful Nowe Powisle apartment complex, designed by her architectural firm, Kurylowicz & Associates. We are so pleased to share the photos she shared with us. The Rapson Rocker looks completely at home in its new surroundings. Shortly thereafter, her son Marek, wrote us, saying, "I had the pleasure to sit in the chair today. Great furniture. It's not a rocker only by name.



[photo credit: Ewa Kurylowicz, all rights reserved]

With over 70 employees on staff, Kurylowicz & Associates have a highly prolific profile. Much of their work is in the commercial sector, yet their structures are far from dull or run of the mill. As a practice, they seek to eliminate the too common division of social environments and commercial spaces. The Centre for Preventive Oncology in Warsaw is just one such example. The intent from inception was to create a calming sense of peace and harmony for patients. At the same time, the building emanates a message of superb care and technological advances. The pale silver exterior has a playful industrial aesthetic about it, accentuated by the Mario Bros geometrically shaped plots of grass in the surrounding landscape. The interior is light and airy, furnished with natural woods and vibrant space-age furniture. In turn, the atmosphere is a positive one, not one of boredom and dread that is so often felt in hospital waiting rooms.



 

   


[images credited to: Lukasz Czechowicz] 


Their adept, finely-tuned designs are not limited to large-scale projects. As mentioned in the preceding Q & A, the private house at Kazimierz was designed as a retirement home for Ewa and her late husband, and it currently serves as a weekend holiday home for the family. Although overtly modern in form and decor, the overall design pays tribute to the local historical building traditions. The natural lime stone walls, inside and out, along with the enormous wooden beams and ample wooden planking, create a tie between human habitation and nature. If it isn’t too early to dub a structure as neo-postmodern, this house is it. The forms are extruded, simplified and exaggerated, with a sort of light deconstructivist vibe. The stairways take on an almost structural quality, emphasizing the length and height of the house. Despite the oversized elements of the house, stairways, fireplace, ceiling beams, etc., and the actual large volume of the house, the spaces appear intimate and inviting, a feat that should not be under-acknowledged.




[images credited to: Kurylowicz & Associates, all rights reserved]


Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc.

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Retailer Spotlight: Boomerang for modern, San Diego

Share this post Twitter Facebook Tumblr Email Posted May 14, 2012 in Boomerang for modern, midcentury, modern furniture, Ralph Rapson, Rapson Inc., Rapson Rocker, San Diego, vintage furniture

 

 


Boomerang for modern, established in 1985, has been a longtime pioneer in the revival of modern design. The shop, in the trendy North Little Italy district of San Diego, is a treasure trove of modern accesories, lighting, art and home furnishing, all arranged in inviting, home-like settings. We are so pleased that Ralph Rapson designs have found a San Diego home here!


Below is a short Q & A with David Skelley, owner of Boomerang for modern and pictured in the last photo. It comes as no surprise that he is just as delightful and sunny as his shop! I agree with David, it really is the people and stories that make modern design so wonderful.


1. It looks like you have been in the modern retail business at Boomerang for nearly 27 years. What initially drew you to mid-century modern design when it wasn't so popular in the 1980s?

In the late seventies an eccentric friend had me over to his home to show me some of his garage sale furniture finds which happened to be mid-century modern.  I absolutely loved them. This was new and fascinating to me so for months and months I dove into the design section at the library to find out as much as I could. (pre-internet you know!)  I somehow knew this was my calling and there was nothing to be done about it other than to open a small shop and try my hand at selling the stuff. You’re right, the eighties were a hard sell but it eventually caught on. Though I still have people coming into the shop telling me they hear this stuff is “coming back”! -I just agree with them and tell them that it’s been coming back at Boomerang for the last 27 years!


2. What is the most unique/exciting piece to grace your showroom? 

Currently it’s hard to choose as so many special pieces have come in over the past couple of months. Though if I’m going to choose it would be an entire dining suite by designer Martin Borenstein for California’s Brown Saltman circa mid-fifties. The series is called “Variations” as the pieces are modular and expandable on demand. The buffet has separate units that are joined by sliding walnut couplers and the dining table has two benches each with three cushions. The center one is removable and the two outer ones can slide inwards to form a two seat bench for when the table isn’t using the leaves. Very ingenious and fun.


3. What do you enjoy most about running your business at Boomerang?  

The great designs that flow through the shop are always a joy but really it’s the people. The customers, some of whom are seasoned and knowledgeable collectors and other wide-eyed newcomers who are just discovering this rich era of design.  –And the amazing people I buy from. Most happen to be the original owners who happened to be quite progressive in their day and their stories add so much color, depth and even passion to each item!


4. How long have you had the Rapson Rockers on display in your showroom? 

I have had the Rapson rockers in my showroom since their reintroduction starting with the Bentwood rocker and now I have low back and high back Greenbelt rockers in the showroom.


5. What types of response have you gotten from customers? 

Nothing but high praise. I have a couple who own a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house very interested in my high back as these chairs were specified for some of his homes.

 

6. What do you personally like about the Rapson Rocker? What’s NOT to like? 

They are stunning and sculptural from every angle. They are beautifully crafted and solid as a rock. The joinery and upholstery attention to detail are perfect. Plus they fit the human anatomy and rock like the dickens!

 

 

7. Have you long been an admirer of Rapson architecture and design? If so, what do you like about it and which projects are your favorites?

When I first became interested in this period of architecture and design I discovered the “Case Study House” program and Rapson’s delightful Greenbelt House. But what I really got a kick out of were his super amusing hand drawn illustrations with crazy looking people and animals doing crazy modern things in their Rapson designed homes.


[photo credits: David Skelley, Boomerang for modern. All rights reserved]

We would like to extend a most sincere thank you to David for taking time to write such wonderful and entertaining responses for this interview. I will surely write a post about Ralph Rapson's wildly inventive drawings, but for the meantime, some of his best known drawings can be found in the books, Ralph Rapson: Sketches and Drawings from Around the World and Ralph Rapson: 60 Years of Modern Design. 


Caroline Engel for Rapson-Inc.

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