The world recently lost one of its greatest interior designers, Jens Risom, who was 100-years-old. Born into a well-known Danish architectural family in 1916, Risom was surrounded by the architectural and design profession throughout his early life.
Risom left Denmark for the U.S. in 1938 and served as the director of interior design at the studio of Dan Cooper, Inc. for over two years. It was shortly after leaving that position, Risom met renowned designer Hans Knoll when the pair collaborated for an exhibition for the New York World’s Fair. The partnership saw Knoll handling client relations while Risom planned interiors and designed furniture when needed. The first catalog from Knoll in 1942 featured 15 pieces designed by Risom. He developed several chairs and tables, utilizing scraps of wood and rejected nylon straps from parachute production. Risom was able to design innovative and modern pieces of furniture despite the restrictions on materials due to World War II. The lounge chair was described as good, honest furniture design that helped establish Knoll as an early source of modern design in America.
Risom will live on as a legacy, representing modern design. According to the New York Times, Risom’s work was defined by sharp lines that mixed with the rustic aura of American arts and crafts. The armless affordable chair that became his signature piece was one of the first mass-produced modernist furniture designs introduced in the U.S. instead of Europe.