Happy 100th Birthday, Jens Risom

Happy 100th Birthday, Jens Risom

A tribute to honor the 100th birthday of midcentury master Jens Risom.
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We've gathered some of our favorite Risom stories.

In 2009, Dwell editor-in-chief Amanda Dameron joined Jens Risom on his return to his 1967 prefab off the coast of Rhode Island, where he's been readying it for his family's next generation. The A-framed structure, shown here, is bordered by a low stone wall, an aesthetic element that appears throughout the land. 

"Architecture, to me, is the most beautiful of the arts," says Risom, pictured in 2009 at his family's Block Island summer home. "I always knew that I wanted to design, but only [if I could] create products over which I had total control."

Shortly after his arrival to the United States in 1939, Risom met Hans Knoll, the founder of Knoll, with whom he would work to produce some of the company's earliest interior and furniture designs. Widely known as the first chair to be designed for Knoll, this iconic Risom Lounge Chair brought the natural materials and understated form of Scandinavian design to large-scale U.S. production. It makes use of few materials that were widely available during wartime—surplus army webbing and parachute straps—wrapped around a supple, curving wooden frame.

Risom has long graced the pages of Dwell—it's hard to miss his classic modern designs. In this Boston family residence, a custom prototype mural by FilzFelt and a carpet by Flor join a child-size chair and Amoeba table that Risom designed for Knoll.  

Can you spot the Risom in this picture? It's the oversize conference table in Bob Weinstein's live/work Manhattan loft, and it "supposedly came from the conference room of the Kinney Shoe Corporation," he says. Weinstein uses the table to display part of his Scandinavian pottery collection.

Last year—at age 99—Risom collaborated with Chris Hardy on a collection with Design Within Reach, which showed at WantedDesign. The midcentury-inspired Vens (Danish for "friends") storage collection, updated by Hardy, bears the indelible mark of the old master.

The Ven collection first began when Risom approached Design Within Reach with the idea of revisiting one of his older cabinet designs. The result is a series of customizable storage pieces that honor Risom's designs, updated with Hardy's contemporary twist.

The designer sits in his iconic chair, first manufactured for Knoll in 1943 and still in production today. In honor of the midcentury master, Chairish has created a collection of his favorite chairs.


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