In 1950, there were very few shops in the U.S. that sold modern furniture and design. Ralph and Mary Rapson wanted to change that. While Ralph selected the designs and worked his day job as a practicing architect and architecture professor at MIT, Mary worked tirelessly on the many details of opening a new store for modern design. Rapson-Inc. opened in 1950, just a block off Copley Square in the heart of Boston. Rapson-Inc. showcased not only Rapson's own designs (rockers, especially) but also the designs of Ralph's Cranbrook Academy of Art colleagues. Together, these designs — by Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and others — continue to define good modern design more than 60 years later.
In the late 1990s, Toby Rapson, AIA, Ralph's youngest son and business partner at Rapson Architects, began working with Ralph and other members of the firm to resurrect Rapson furniture designs. In 2002, they reintroduced an updated, taller version of the bentwood rockers Ralph had first drawn at Cranbrook in 1939. Following Ralph's death in 2008, Toby separated the furniture design business from the architecture firm. Today, Rapson-Inc., a family-owned company, once again uses Ralph and Mary's bow-tie Rapson-Inc. logo, faithfully and responsibly producing furniture in the U.S.A. from the large design library that Ralph Rapson left behind.
Ralph Rapson's accomplishments in architecture and design span 70 years, connecting the defining events...