Update: Restoring a Vintage Rapson
September 17th, 2012
This past February, I wrote an article about a vintage 1940s Rapson Rocker that came to us by way of Minnesota architect, Craig Rafferty, FAIA. This rocker was mass produced during the 1940s by Knoll, and was one of the earlier designs by Ralph Rapson. I recently spoke with one of our craftsmen, Jason Wismar, about the progress and complexities of restoring a one-of-a-kind Rapson original.
What are the major challenges in the reproducing this chair?
The greatest challenge has been in reproducing some parts and keeping others original to render a cohesive whole piece. So, blending old and new seamlessly is the main challenge. One of the parts that we replaced was the rather sculptural arm rest. I don't know how the pieces were originally produced but, regardless, because I am only making one arm, the process is different. I am using hand tools and hand drawn layout lines to reproduce a chair part most likely made in a small production run using fixed set ups on power tools and jigs that allow the operator to make the same cuts repeatedly with the same result.
Could you describe the current stage of restoration?
Everything has been re-made now. One rear leg and armrest are totally new and the rest of the chair is original. I'm fine tuning the shapes and re-assembling the chair frame that sits within the cradle. Soon we'll be prepping the frame for a new lacquer finish and webbing.
Below are the most recent photos of the restored frame. Read more and see the pre-restoration photos here
Caroline Engel for Danish Teak Classics