In honour of his collaboration with Benchmark and Rocket, who are reissuing his designs in Europe, we thought we'd take a look at the work of Jens Risom, the Danish-born American designer whose work made up the bulk of Knoll's first collection. Constructed of simple woods and readily available materials, they've since become design classics. At 94, he's still going strong.
Credited with being one of the first designers to bring a Scandinavian sensibility to American furniture design, Risom was a classmate of Hans Wegner's at design school in Copenhagen. Hoping to expand his design vocabulary, Risom traveled to the US to study American furniture design. When he arrived, he realized that the business wasn't as developed as he'd anticipated. In order to show off his work to designer Dan Cooper, the fabric and interior designer at the Museum of Modern Art, he took a series of jobs designing textiles. His work paid off. He was soon asked to design the furniture for a model home, the Collier "House of Ideas", constructed in front of Rockefeller Center as part of the World's Fair. This marked a turning point for him. Soon afterward he met with entrepreneur Hans Knoll. Together they launched The Hans Knoll Furniture Company with Risom designing the first Knoll chair, made up of cedar and surplus parachute straps, still a classic today. For more on Jens Risom, check out his site. DWR carries Risom's work in the US.
Looks at Other Mid-Century Masters
[images 1-5, Design Within Reach; images 6-10 via Jens Risom;]