Design icon Jens Risom passed away on December 9, seven months after celebrating his 100th birthday. The esteemed Danish designer was known for creating furniture that helped define the modernist aesthetic of the 20th century.
After moving from his native Denmark to the U.S. in the late 1930s, Risom got to know Hans Knoll. What resulted was a wartime collection for a new furniture brand. The Risom lounge chair, Risom’s most well-known design, emerged as part of these early collaborations with Knoll. The chair, made with parachute straps discarded by the military, became a widespread success after its introduction in 1943. The collection’s simple, livable forms and materials helped establish a Scandinavian design sensibility in the American market. Several of Risom’s designs during this time were reintroduced by Knoll in 1994.
Risom lived between New Canaan, Connecticut, and a summer house on Block Island, Rhode Island, that he designed and built in 1967. (The prefab residence became an icon in its own right, appearing on the cover of Life magazine.) He continued to design throughout his lifetime under his own company, Jens Risom Design. In 2015, Design Within Reach released the Ven storage line, a collaboration between Risom and then 31-year-old designer Chris Hardy. The collection solidified Risom’s mark on the last century of design, and also speaks to the influence his legacy will have on the next generation of talent.