Rapson taught architecture at the New Bauhaus School in Chicago from 1942-1946. He Also taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1946-1954. He is well-known for his experimental concept houses like the 1939 "Cave House" and "Fabric House," and the 1945 "Greenbelt House," which was Arts & Architecture's Case Study House #4. Rapson was the Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Minnesota from 1954-1984.
In 1963 he designed the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis. He also worked for the U.S. Government's Department of Foreign Buildings in the 1950s, after striking a deal that any work he did would be furnished with Knoll furniture. From this period, Rapson is best known for the U.S. Embassy buildings in Stockholm and Copenhagen.
Rapson's furniture designs employed newly developed materials and mass production processes. In 1945 he helped Knoll introduce the 'Equipment for Living' series of furniture. The program was commissioned by the Kellett Aircraft Corporation, who requested that the pieces be made of metal. Rapson's line featuring a tea trolley, side table and lounge proved to be extremely successful, and Knoll created 'Thermalware' accessories like cocktail shakers and ice buckets to accompany the furniture. Knoll then released the Rapson Line in 1945, which included the now-classic "Rapson Rocker." Knoll sold the playful, organic line to Bloomingdale's in 1945, who then took out a full page advertisement for the rocker in the New York Times, touting it as a modern take on a traditional piece.
Throughout the 1950s, Rapson and his wife Mary had a store, Rapson, Inc., in Boston. The couple sold Rapson's furniture, as well as George Nelson furniture and objects, Harry Bertoia jewelry and pieces from both the Knoll and Herman Miller collections. They also imported pieces that they found to be integral to the energy of modern design like porcelain from Germany and Marimekko textiles from Finland.
From r20thcentury.com and rapsonarchitects.com
|Slide lamp sketches|
|Highback Greenbelt rock|