Rapson Rockers: A Classic is Reborn

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By Kim Derby / Published by Dwell
What has been dubbed the "Rapson Revival" began with the reintroduction of Ralph Rapson’s mid-century modern Rapid Rocker. First manufactured in the 1940s by Knoll, the classic chair had been out of production for 60 years when Rapson Inc. made it available again at the end of 2011. Rapson’s design aesthetic focused on craftsmanship, natural materials, and the human form. The cantilevered arms of his Rapid Rocker have been copied time and again, but this now-iconic design set the precedent.
Rapson Rockers: A Classic is Reborn - Photo 1 of 4 - The Rapson Greenbelt Lounge is now available in four different color and wood combinations.

The Rapson Greenbelt Lounge is now available in four different color and wood combinations.

Rapson Rockers: A Classic is Reborn - Photo 2 of 4 - A collaboration with Loll yielded this outdoor rocker.

A collaboration with Loll yielded this outdoor rocker.

Rapson Rockers: A Classic is Reborn - Photo 3 of 4 - Here's the rocker covered in Verner Panton–designed fabric.

Here's the rocker covered in Verner Panton–designed fabric.

Rapson Inc. next joined forces with YLiving to reintroduce Rapson’s Greenbelt line of chair designs. And YLiving commissioned a limited edition version of the Rapid Rocker, available in a 1965 Verner Panton fabric and a black laminated American maple frame. Most recently, new outdoor versions of the Greenbelt line made with recycled plastic were created by Loll Designs and unveiled last week at ICFF. All designs are currently available for purchase through YLiving.

Best known as an architect, Ralph Rapson studied under Eliel Saarinen at the University of Michigan’s school of architecture, and alongside Charles Eames and Harry Bertoia at Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 1950, Rapson and his wife opened a store in Boston, one of the few places on the East Coast where modern architects and designers could sell their products. Upon Rapson’s retirement and death, his son, Toby, who was also his father’s business partner at Rapson Architects, decided to resurrect the vast archive of furniture designs. There are hundreds more unrealized designs that Rapson Inc. is considering putting into production in the future.

Rapson Rockers: A Classic is Reborn - Photo 4 of 4 - This is the famed 1940s Rapson Rapid Rocker recently reissued.

This is the famed 1940s Rapson Rapid Rocker recently reissued.

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