Even though he looks about 12 in this recent photo on the left, Toby actually started helping lead Rapson Architects as his father's "right-hand man" in the 1980s (picture on the right). Now the CEO of Ralph Rapson and Associates, Inc. as well as our owner, Toby been passionate about the environmental and human impact of design since his days as a student. He is deeply committed to serving many local arts and non-profit organizations in his hometown of Minneapolis, where he has been on over a dozen boards of directors. Always mindful of his father's admonition that "there's a lot of half-assed Modernism out there," Toby continues to practice architecture and manage the family's furniture business with both an artist's eye for detail and a true Modernist's commitment to use. Toby's four sons have all helped develop the Rapson furniture business, as has his wife, Janet, an artist.
Chris first got to know the Rapsons when, shortly after moving his young family into a house Ralph designed (above), the architect paid a visit. Although slightly distressed that Ralph was touring the house unannounced and there was a crunchy layer of infant-strewn Cheerios on the floor, Chris really enjoyed the visit. In hopes of combining his experience as a successful marketer and venture capitalist with his enthusiasm for modern design, Chris later approached Toby with ideas to extend Ralph's legacy in furniture design. Chris' kids can often be found reading in Rapson Rockers or lying down for a nap in a Rapson Dwell Lounge.
Jane King Hession, Consulting Archivist and Historian
Although it seems like only yesterday, Jane has been researching, writing, curating, archiving and talking about Ralph Rapson and his work for the past sixteen years. Yet there is always something new to be discovered. As co-author and guest curator of Ralph Rapson: Sixty Years of Modern Design (book and exhibit), Jane gained a deep appreciation for Ralph’s architecture and love of his incomparable drawing style. Despite the fact that he never forgave her for writing a book about Frank Lloyd Wright, he allowed her to coordinate the effort to archive his drawings collection.
Ian Rapson, Web Analyst
Ian grew up steeped in Architecture and Modern Design. One of his earliest memories is of his Grandfather's office: how big all the desks were, and most distinctly, the smell of the hundreds of rolls of paper and the ammonia of the blueprint machine. Why all of the exposure to art and design didn't lead to a career in architecture, he still isn't sure. Ian first became involved in his grandfather's furniture during high school, when Ralph began updating and producing the new Bentwood Rocker. Today he works in the health industry and is planning on attending graduate school for biostatistics, with the goal of someday working on the design, analysis, and implementation of national health initiatives. For Rapson-Inc. he performs web design and online communication, and produces content for marketing efforts.
Caroline Engel, Contributing Blogger
Caroline Engel has a Master's in Architectural History and deep experience in furniture and design, from interior design to hands-on restoration of heirloom modern pieces. When she's not writing for Rapson-Inc. or select other design companies, Caroline works and volunteers to preserve important components of the built environment, including work for the National Park Service.