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Jens Risom

Jens Risom (1916-2016) was a Danish-American furniture designer who spearheaded the influence of Scandinavian design on U.S. furniture across the middle part of the 20th century. Through the ‘50s and ‘60s, he created furniture for high profile clients such as Playboy Magazine and former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Early in his life, he attended the Copenhagen School of Industrial Arts and Design and Niels Brock Copenhagen Business College. In 1939, he moved to New York City to learn more about American furniture design. Risom’s textile work for Dan Cooper appeared in the “House of Ideas,” a display at the 1939 Worlds Fair that was placed in front of Rockefeller Center. The exhibition gained Risom greater popularity, and together with Hans Knoll he founded the Hans Knoll Furniture Company in 1942. The company’s first 20-piece furniture line featured 15 pieces designed by Risom. Perhaps the most famous of the collection was the Risom Lounge Chair, crafted using wartime materials: parachute straps and military webbing wrapped around a wood frame. After serving in World War II, Risom returned to work at Knoll but soon launched his own company — Jens Risom Design. Many of his designs from this period feature walnut, one of Risom's favorite woods, and an absence of nailheads or screws, which add to their streamlined appearance. His company was sold in 1970, and he retired to Connecticut where he ran a consulting service. Although Jens Risom died in 2016, his works remain popular with high-end furniture collectors around the world and are signature examples of upscale mid-century modern design.