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In 1950, there were almost no 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 - financial, promotional and operational - of opening a new store for modern design.
It all came together. 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 colleagues. Together, these designs - by Charles Eames, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, and others - continue to define good modern design more than 60 years later.
Although Rapson-Inc. closed after Ralph and Mary left Boston for Europe in the early 1950s, they both remembered the store fondly. After the resurgence of interest in modern design in the late 1990s, Toby Rapson, Ralph's son and business partner at Rapson Architects, worked with Ralph and other members of the firm to resurrect Rapson furniture designs. Working with the team at Rapson Architects and master craftman Jonathan Loeck, they built and went into production with an updated, taller version of the bentwood rockers Ralph had first drawn at Cranbrook in 1939. Following Ralph's death in 2008, Toby decided to separate the furniture design business from the architecture firm.
Today, Rapson-Inc. (okay, technically we're now Rapson LLC) once again uses Ralph and Mary's bow-tie Rapson-Inc. logo and makes furniture from the large design library that Ralph left behind.