Risom, Jens

(1916 - 2016)

Jens Risom was a Danish-born furniture designer. He was trained at the Copenhagen School of Industrial Arts and Design under Ole Wanscher and Kaare Klint and his first job as a furniture and interior designer was for Ernst Kühn. Although he learned the trade in Denmark, and was even knighted in 1996, he is often counted among the American designers who shaped postwar design. When he traveled to the US in 1939, Risom started out designing textiles and the occasional piece of furniture, while acting as the Director of Interior Design for Dan Cooper, Inc. He and German émigré Hans Knoll worked on an exhibition for the 1939 New York World's Fair. This was the start of their collaboration. Risom provided Knoll with fifteen pieces for his 1942 catalogue. The chairs, made under wartime materials mandates from cedar wood and surplus webbing, have since become classics and gave Knoll a strong commercial start. The work solidified Risom's style as a combination of simple, well-crafted Scandinavian modernity and streamlined American curves and angles. After the war the cedar was replaced with laminated beech, and the webbed seat and back, inspired by the work of Swedish designer Bruno Matthson, were also replaced with a higher quality material. After World War II. he started his own company, Jens Risom, Inc. Over the next two decades Risom designed furniture for prominent clients including Georg Jensen and Richard Avedon.