Remembering Jens Risom, A Founding Father of Mid-Century Modern

Image via Knoll

Jens Risom was one of the founding fathers of mid-century modern design in America. Born in Copenhagen in 1916, the Danish-American furniture designer moved to the U.S. in the ‘30s, where he would go on to establish himself as one of the masters in the canon of mid-century American design. We remember him for introducing Scandinavian design as an important element in the U.S. modern movement, and for his now-iconic Risom Lounge Chair.

In New York City, Risom teamed up with fellow Danish émigré Hans Knoll to launch the Hans Knoll Furniture Company, for which he designed 15 of the 20 pieces of furniture for the company’s inaugural “600 line.” Many of these pieces – including the Risom Lounge Chair (1943), fabricated from birch and surplus parachute scraps – are still made to this day. Risom later founded his own studio, Jens Risom Design, in 1946.

Risom’s designs are remarkable for their being minimal yet approachable, livable yet beautiful. His signature style was characterized by clean lines, light wood, and monochromatic upholstery. His furniture collection eventually became a household fixture. Famously, Lyndon B. Johnson had a Risom swivel chair in the Oval Office.

Apart from his classic designs, Jens Rison will be remembered as a contemporary designer. Even well into his 90’s, Rison continued to put pencil to sketchpad. He has collaborated with Design Within Reach and Ralph Pucci to launch new collections of his designs.

We are truly saddened by the loss of this visionary designer.

The Risom Lounge Chair (1943) | Image via Knoll
Risom Chest-of-Drawers (1955) | Image via Brookyn Museum
Risom Amoeba Coffe Table (1943), Risom Side Table – Round, & Risom Side Table – Square (1943) | Image via Knoll
Jens Risom Structure Sofa for Ralph Pucci | Image via Ralph Pucci
Jens Risom Structure Sofa for Ralph Pucci | Image via Ralph Pucci
Jen Risom's Block Island Family Vacation Home | Image via Dwell
Jen Risom’s Block Island Family Vacation Home | Image via Dwell

Subscribe to MADS

Sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest news, events, giveaways and updates from MADS and the MADS Home Tours.

We respect your privacy. MADS will never spam you or sell your information.

Related Posts

Recent Posts