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 watercolors, October 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.