Jens Risom Danish | 1916-2016
Jens Risom was born in Copenhagen in 1916. From 1935 to 1938 he attended the School for Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen where he trained under the furniture maker Kaare Klint and his fellow students included Hans Wegner. In 1939, Risom emigrated from Denmark to the USA, where in 1941 he designed the first range of furniture manufactured by Hans Knoll. In 1946 he established Jens Risom Design Inc, which grew to become the third largest furniture company in America.
Risom’s furniture is in numerous collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; and The RISD Museum, Providence, Rhode Island. In 1970 Risom was appointed a trustee of the Rhode Island School of Design where in 2004 he received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts. In 1996 Risom received the Danish Knight's Cross.
Rocket presented the first ever UK exhibition of mid-century furniture by Risom in 2007. This exhibition developed following a meeting with the designer in his New Canaan, Connecticut home in April 2006 and a visit to Rocket by Risom in September 2006. The vintage furniture pieces – manufactured between 1941 and 1971 – were collected in the USA over a period of five years and were imported specially for this exhibition.
Simultaneously, Rocket exhibited 1960s paintings and screenprints by the New York painter Larry Zox – thereby juxtaposing mid-century Danish-American design with abstract paintings from the same period.
In 2010 Jens Risom encouraged Jonathan Stephenson to embark on re-issuing some of his classic furniture designs. This invitation led to the release by Rocket of a first collection of nine pieces issued under exclusive licence from Risom himself. The collection was premiered by an exhibition at Rocket and an exclusive feature in Wallpaper* magazine.
Risom lived to celebrate his 100th birthday in May 2016 and died peacefully later that year on 9 December.
On his death the Risom family formed a partnership with Form Portfolios, whose intention is to license a large range of his furniture designs with prestigious companies. In January 2019 Rocket acquired a new exclusive licence to eight pieces of furniture which are now manufactured to exceptional standards by a small team of woodworkers in Bow, London.