Rarify is a company that cares deeply about important design. We have grown and established our reputation by spending years in the design and architecture community, working hands-on in innovative design offices, research labs, as scholars in design history, and as dealers of sought after 20th century furniture. Our founders carry professional degrees in Architecture, Computer Sciences, Design Studies, and Design Computation. They also carry invaluable yet informal expertise from growing their passions outside of the academic setting. Our company does not aspire to sell products to customers. We instead hope to foster a community, where we can help to facilitate education and exploration of important design works. Rarify aspires to showcase the finest museum-grade examples of rare design for view and for purchase, while carrying authentic new products and vintage that can be afforded by the masses of design lovers across all incomes and interests.
We look up to the foundation laid by Florence and Hans Knoll in particular, along with the influence that brands such as Design Within Reach have had in increasing exposure to the designers and works that we so appreciate. It could be argued that Florence and Hans Knoll were singlehandedly responsible for bringing the international style and modernism to the eyes of millions in the 1940's and beyond. Florence Knoll was prolific in taking her professional expertise in architecture from working with Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius, and Mies Van Der Rohe, and then translating pressing needs in the architectural world to uncanny success and impact. Through the Knoll Planning Unit, Knoll's interiors division, Florence Knoll would design and deliver new works to complement and create post-war corporate interiors within the US. This included the likes of General Motors, IBM, and CBS, along with the interiors of countless influential architects of the mid 20th century. Florence would bring established and untested designers to the Knoll company to produce new works, seek out existing designs from those such as Mies Van Der Rohe to produce through Knoll at scale, and when other designs were needed still, she would create the "meat and potatoes" herself. Those "fill-in" furnishings often included less-desirable products such as sofas and credenzas that other designers did not take interest in, however, her expansive catalog of works have now become as recognized or more than Knoll's icons by other designers.
Thanks to the Knoll's impact across corporate America and innovation from the Eames,' George Nelson, and others, a renaissance of design took place during this period that led to excitement and education about what modernism looks like. While modern design was visible in magazines, television, and to clients who could afford and find architects/designers, it was not widely available for sale across the US and international marketplace. Fast forward to 1999 and we saw the introduction of Design Within Reach (DWR), a company that was not monetarily within reach, but instead made iconic designs of the 20th century accessible to the public for purchase. Through their showrooms, catalogs, and online presence, design was finally easy to buy and frequently in stock. Until 2010, however, the company was cursed through choosing to carry some unlicensed products along with licensed counterparts, while facing financial losses from rapid growth of showrooms. John Edelman was instrumental in changing DWR's fate, bringing his industry expertise and passion for authentic design to the company. Today, Design Within Reach is under the ownership of Herman Miller.
So what's the problem? Why does Rarify need to exist? The design renaissance of the mid 20th century happened because furniture and design objects had not yet been created to accompany the increasingly modern world. Today, we face a different challenge. Many facets of life have moved into a digital space, making the once-novel idea of a showroom less and less relevant. As we have become comfortable buying furniture online, we want an experience that is as immersive as being in the showroom itself. Instead, what we have available to us for new furniture online is an unfiltered and often chaotic offering of every new product that every design brand produces. Combine this with hundreds of material options and we already have a headache. In the realm of vintage, private equity groups are now guiding the future of vintage marketplaces, distilling what may have been special in exchange for higher earnings. In those cases, authenticity is rarely vetted and quality is rapidly descending. Where can you go to buy curated authentic designs that are both new and vintage? You can’t.
Rarify needs to exist because authentic designs needs to be visible and profound to look at online, with a community around them. With our backgrounds in technology, we will bring 3D scanning and ultra-high resolution photography to the table, helping to build an archive, online museum, and marketplace. Rarify aspires to be rigorous in its curation, but not glamorous. With your help, we want to create a resource that is educational and useful, while introducing a digital showroom that is enjoyable to browse or buy from. We are passionate about design and feel that enthusiasts and designers alike deserve an inviting place to engage their passions.