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Mid-century Modern

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Danish Design Store Is Having a Sale

DesignPublic.com

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Pssst… our sister store, Danish Design Store, is having a sale:

If you’ve been eyeing a modern icon like Hans Wegner Wishbone Chair (they come in all sorts of fun colors in addition to various woods and finishes),

a PH Snowball Pendant by Louis Poulsen,

or perhaps a Finn Juhl Nyhavn Table with Tray Unit

… now is the time. The store has an amazing selection of Danish classics and new designs, so be sure to stop by. On top of the 15% off, there is also free shipping.*

The sale is only running from March 6 to March 18th 2014. Shopping pieces that grace so many of the world’s museum’s permanent collections is a big decision. Buying one is a decision you will never regret. Here’s what you do —  go browse, go to bed, sleep on it and dream about it in your home and imagine yourself using it. Then do the math — think about how much you’ll save and figure out if brown-bagging it for a month will make it affordable for you. When you wake up, your decision will be made.

By the way, Danish Design Store is curated in such a way that if  the piece you have your eye on isn’t already a sought-after icon, you can bet someday it will be, like the Panton Bachelor Chair, which looks like someone dreamed it up while playing with a paper clip and staring at a classic white window shade.

Shop the sale

*The sale excludes the following brands: PP Mobler, One Collection, Hay, Innovation, Menu, Glerups & Stelton

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Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Great Exhibition: Paul Rand at MoDA

Becky

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Hey All! If any of you are in Atlanta between now and January 30 2013, I highly recommend swinging by the Paul Rand exhibition over at the Museum of Design Atlanta. It was very inspiring; I had no idea one man was behind so many amazing logos, book designs and graphic design principles. Unfortunately, trying to Google “Paul Rand” brings up some a lot of unrelated sites, so I’ve included the direct link to the exhibit at the end of this post.

MoDA is located right across Peachtree Street from the High Museum of Art in a very cool building that was redesigned/remodeled/given a green makeover by Perkins + Will. The MoDA space is on the first floor; its entrance is next to the entrance to the public library.

The lobby is filled with inspiring quotes from Rand, as well as an interactive exercise and a four-minute video.

Rand looked to so many different things for inspiration, including buoys:

The exhibition included a slew of amazing book cover designs by Rand.

His iconic UPS logo is one of his best known. What I enjoyed much was some of the original mock ups they have. The IBM rebus graphic below is just cut-up paper affixed with Scotch tape:

The resulting graphic:

The exhibition also included fabric he’d designed, his own chair designed by Alvar Aalto, and the plans for his and his wife’s modern home, which I would  love to learn more about as it looked like a very thoughtful mid-century mod abode with a cool courtyard. I’ll see what I can find and get back to you on that later.

Another highlight were these Rand-designed covers for Direction when he was in his 20s.

Alright, I’ll stop spoiling the entire show for you; click here to learn more about it and MoDA.

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Friday, May 17th, 2013

5 Ways With the Saarinen Dining Table

Becky

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We are so proud that we offer Saarinen Dining Tables from Knoll. They are a mid-century modern classic designed by Eero Saarinen to help “clear up the slum of legs,” both table and chair. Pedestal bases reduce the number of legs from four to one, and both the tables and chairs have come to be known more commonly as tulip tables and tulip chairs.

Available with marble, laminate, granite, wood veneers and more, the tables come in several sizes. The greatest thing about these tables is that they fit in everywhere, from serving as the main dining table in the center of an elegant dining room to a small kitchen table in a colorful eat-in kitchen. The table is a classic mid-century modern piece that does not go out of style.

A nod to Sputnik. This retro-inspired room by Kristen Grove is definitely mid-century modern inspired, but has a fresh look with its lovely floors and updated takes on .

Clean organic contemporary. Croma Design mixes pedestal and legs, marble and wood with a backdrop of grasscloth in this harmonious contemporary dining space.
A mix of old and new. A wide age-range of furnishings within traditional architecture creates quite the combination. The table fits nicely into a modest-sized corner, and in this case, plays off the curves of the classic Cherner chairs and Patricia Urquoila Caboche light. (via Remodelista, photograph by Photography Lisa Duncan and Wayne Miller)

Paired with its old friends, the Eames and Mr. Nelson. This room has a warm yet somewhat minimal vibe, combining several mid-century classics in including Eames chairs and a Nelson Ball Pendant Light. The sideboard, pewter pieces and artwork warm it up and infuse it with the owners’ personalities, thus keeping it from looking like a catalog shot. (via Plastolux, photograph by Chris Nguyen)

Partying it up with bentwood chairs. A Saarinen table paried with fanciful bentwood chairs makes for an yummy eat-in kitchen table, slum of legs be damned!

Shop all Saarinen tables

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Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Get To Know Vitra

Becky

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People, we’re having a sale on all things Vitra for the next week (through Oct. 18, 2012). In honor of that, let’s take a look at some of Vitra’s iconic products.

Vitra produces George Nelson’s mid-century modern clock designs. This is the Sunburst Clock, but there is a slew of diverse designs to choose from.

These are Panton Chairs, also known as “S Chairs” – designed by Vernor Panton back in the sixties. They come in lots of yummy colors. If you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on some of these, do it this week while you can save 15%.

In addition to the cutest product shot ever, we have the Eames Elephant. The prototype was designed by Charles and Ray Eames back in 1945, and was rendered in plywood. Vitra actually put it into production over 60 years later, this time in polypropylene.

This is Jasper Morrison’s Cork Stool. There are three different shapes to choose from. I like them because they are so versatile – you can tuck them underneath a console table as extra seating in a tight space, use them to hold a table lamp and cocktails as a side table, or just enjoy them as sculpture.

Sori Yanagi’s designed this Butterfly Stool in 1954. I feel calmer just looking at it.

This is a thick composition of Vitra’s Algue. These are plastic pieces that snap together to form anything from small sculptural wall hangings to thick, vine-like screens.

Finally, take a virtual visit to Vitra’s campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. My favorite building is Vitrahaus and Lounge Chair Atelier by Herzog & de Meuron, which received a ton of buzz when it first went up back in 2010.

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Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Designer Interview: Rapson-Inc.

Becky

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Architect and furniture designer Ralph Rapson trained at Cranbook under Eliel Saarinen, designed furniture for Knoll, sketched the most charming illustrations of his designs, opened the first modern home decor store  in the Boston area with his wife in the 1940s and practiced as an architect.

Ralph Rapson

Today his son, architect Toby Rapson, and President of Rapson-Inc. Chris Reedy are carrying on the elder Rapson’s legacy, working with designers to re-release high quality Ralph Rapson designs, sometimes with a few tweaks they believe he would have approved of.

Chris, who lived in a Ralph Rapson house (above), met Ralph Rapson when Rapson knocked upon his door to check out how his design was holding up.  So, Toby, did you and your father make a habit of doing this at all the houses you designed?

Toby: I occasionally stop in at homes that my father or I designed. I’m sure that I get this penchant for dropping in unannounced from my Dad.

Chris: My son was only 1 at the time and had just strewn a crunchy layer of Cheerios all over, and the doorbell rings and it’s the great man himself come to look at what we’re doing with his house … Ralph pretended not to notice the chaos and kindly went about charming us all.

How long did it take after that until you two were launching this business together?

Toby: Well, the story is a bit long – my parents originally established Rapson Inc. in Boston during the 1940s selling modern living equipment as well as pieces designed by Ralph.  My father continued to design custom pieces for architectural clients and it wasn’t until 50 years later while working with my dad at Rapson Architects that we started dabbling in reproducing the Rapid Rocker.

This led to collaborating with Blu Dot, producing his Dwell Lounge, and working with other interesting teams of designers on additional prototypes.  After my dad’s death I felt strongly about continuing his design legacy and perhaps producing more pieces from his extensive design library.  My wife and I put together a show of Ralph’s furniture drawings in late 2010 to gauge public interest; it was quite successful.  But, my primary business is Rapson Architects so I knew I needed help to make a stand-alone business.

Chris: As it happened, I came to this impressive show, saw some prototypes, and wondered if Toby was looking for a business partner. The timing was right, I made my pitch, we started the company a little over a year ago, and it’s been a really, really fun time.

How did you choose which designs to release first?

Toby: So far, the choices have been pretty easy. First, we wanted to continue making the bentwood Rapson Rapid Rocker that my father re-introduced late in life.  Second, we decided to produce some of my father’s best-known designs for H.G. Knoll from the 1940s, we call these the Greenbelt Line.  We are also currently working on his iconic ‘Chair of Tomorrow’ and a few others.  The hard part as we move forward will be sifting through the vast options that my dad has given us.

Chris: Those Knoll designs are very important to telling Ralph Rapson’s story in design, obviously, but they also use natural materials that are very appealing today.  It turns out ‘natural modernism’ or ‘rustic modernism’ or whatever you want to call it today has quite long roots.  And the Greenbelt Line has those sculpted, cantilevered arms that are still so daring.

Toby: Yes, those arms are a signature piece of my father’s work.  Just as we were getting started with the Greenbelt Line, I ran into Greg Benson, the CEO at Loll Designs, and we started talking about doing outdoor versions in Loll’s signature material, recycled plastic.

Chris: This was a bit of a discussion; there are definitely Modern purists who might wonder about this.

Toby: But I know my father always wanted to push the envelope and I feel he would have loved knowing the pieces he drew long ago could be for outdoor use; particularly in such a responsible, innovative and incredibly durable material. The team at Loll has been great to work with and we’ve licensed these designs to them. I’m just sorry my father isn’t around to be a part of the fun.

What was the biggest challenge in re-releasing your father’s furniture designs?

Toby: Quality is always a significant challenge. My father’s signature is on each piece we make. Even though we’re a scrappy small company, he would not have wanted any less than perfect chairs to be delivered.

Chris: We take great pride in continuing Ralph’s legacy.

Toby: Luckily, we have found good partners who are excited to make Rapson chairs and understand we’re a small company entrusted with great designs.

What kept you going when the challenges mounted?

Toby: My father’s furniture designs are second to none.  His designs are embraced as modern icons by many, Chris and I just need to do our part.

Are you ever going to re-release the slatted coffee table? Because I want one.

Chris: Stay tuned.

Toby: I thought you were supposed to be the business guy.  Get her credit card number.

photo credit: Larry Weinberg

While we’re on that topic, which designs are you hoping to release in the future?

Chris: The next chair we do will be the first piece based solely off drawings Ralph left behind.

Toby: I wish I had a dollar for every time someone has said “your father drew like an angel.” But beyond that, his furniture drawings often included people sitting, lounging with a martini, reading a book, sunbathing, etc; his drawings had personality and his designs were scaled for people.  It’s astounding how faithful we can be to his imagination – that is, his renderings – and still have a chair that’s very, very comfortable.

Toby: Actually, the public had a say toward this new chair.  We had an opening with Danish Teak Classics; a local gallery that showcased our Greenbelt chairs and we asked the public to vote between three designs.  They made a wise choice.

Chris: In fact, we’re behind schedule because I took the first prototype home, put it in front of the TV, and didn’t want to give it back because it’s so comfortable. The chair actually seems like it’s trying to put you to sleep.

Toby: Becky, I know, you’re thinking “Give me a break! There are a lot of comfortable chairs!”  But my father developed his approach while working with Eliel, Eero, Hans and Florence, Harry, Charlie and others, and brought his innovation to early modern furniture design and the design of this chair that adds both character and comfort in a way that’s surprising and still unique and timely 60 or more years after he drew it.  We can’t wait to get it into production.

No break necessary; I can’t wait to check it out. I also like that you’re on a first-name basis with the greats (Readers, that’s Saarinen, Saarinen, Wegner, Knoll, Bertoia and Eames, I think)! Where can we see more of Ralph Rapson’s amazing drawings?

Toby: We have literally hundreds of drawings, but a nice selection is included in his biography, Ralph Rapson: 60 Years of Modern Design.

Is there anything else you’d like people to remember about Rapson-Inc.?

Toby: Most importantly, I want people to learn more about Ralph Rapson and his role in the development of modern design.  One goal of the company is to ensure the legacy of my father’s designs; I hope people will view what we’re doing at Rapson-Inc as a thoughtful extension of his design process and philosophy.  Moving ahead, we are embracing collaborators and innovative materials with the spirit of my father as we expand the catalog of Rapson designs in production.

Thanks so much to Toby and Chris for taking the time to speak with us today. Readers, All Rapson-Inc. products are 15% off through October 31, so get shopping!

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