Largely known for his role in bringing modernist Scandinavian design to the United States, Copenhagen-born designer Jens Risom passed away in New Canaan, Connecticut, on December 9. He was surrounded by his family, according to a release from Ralph Pucci International.
Jens Risom; courtesy Knoll
“I am saddened by the death of my great friend. Jens was one of the most elegant, honest, intelligent and still down-to-earth people I ever knew,” says Ralph Pucci, who recently hosted a yearlong exposition of Risom’s work.
Jens Risom Lounge Chair; courtesy Knoll
Risom, who was born in May 1916, came to the U.S. in 1939, where he met Hans Knoll and began collaborating on a new furniture brand. Among his work during that era was the Risom Lounge Chair, produced during the war and created from recycled military parachute straps, as Interior Design reports. (That chair would later be found in the Lyndon B. Johnson White House.) After designing 15 of 20 pieces in Knoll’s premiere furniture collection, released in 1942, Risom went on to design for his own firm, Jens Risom Designs, starting in 1946.
Jens Risom (far right) appears with (from left) George Nelson, Edward Wormley, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia and Charles Eames in a 1961 Playboy magazine story; courtesy Playboy
Risom’s design collaborations didn’t slow down toward the end of his life; he worked with designer Chris Hardy on a cabinet series last year, and partnered with Design Within Reach to reissue a side table originally developed in 1950. In his later years, he also launched a design consulting firm, Design Control.
Risom’s work can be found in permanent collections of museums worldwide. Among his honors are the Brooklyn Museum’s Modernism Design Award for Lifetime Achievement, granted in 1994; the Russel Wright Award; an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Rhode Island School of Design; and being knighted with the Danish Knight’s Cross by Queen Margrethe, in 1996.