Collection by Aaron Britt

Ralph Rapson's Chairs


Though plenty of architects turn their attentions to furniture, few can claim authorship of a proper classic. Ralph Rapson, the Minnesotan modernist who designed the original Guthrie Theater and scores of other midwestern gems, is one. His Rapson line for Knoll in 1945 helped bring American modernism into post-war homes. A new show, starting Friday, November 4th at Archer, Washington D.C.'s leading showroom for 20th-century design, celebrates Rapson for his contributions to the art of the chair. The show, "Ralph Rapson: The Architect as Chair Designer", offers a glimpse of Rapson's works, like the Rapson rocker, but also demonstrates what a spectacular draftsman Rapson was. If architecture ever let him down, Rapson could easily have found work as a New Yorker cartoonist. And it was in part his drawings that led him to win the lounge chair design contest Dwell sponsored with Blu Dot in 2007. Have a look at his stellar work and try to get into the exhibition.

The chair that caused all the fuss, the Rapson rocker was part of a line Rapson did for Knoll in 1945.
Here's a fine example of Rapson's architectural drawings populated with furniture and people of his devising.
Many of Rapson's designs never went into production. But that didn't keep the draftsman from putting pen to paper.
The best.
Here is where Rapson and his gifts as an illustrator really shine.
Here's a pair of Rapson rockers made now by Rapson Inc.
Rapson, who only had one arm, was quite careful not to be photographed from his right side.
Here's an archival shot of the high-backed Rapson rocker.
This Knoll print ad from 1945 marries one mid-century star with another: sure we've got Ralph Rapson in moody profile,...
Never one to hand out praise, Frank Lloyd Wright does appear to be digging the Rapson rocker. Awesome harp, too.
Here's the image Archer has put together to promote the show, which runs from November 4th to December 4th.

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