Friday, December 31, 2010

A nice rebirth this year : Jens Risom

At ninety-four years of age the Danish-born American designer Jens Risom has collaborated with Rocket and Benchmark, who have jointly secured the European rights to reissue his 1950s and 1960s furniture designs. In July 2010, a  first collection of nine pieces has been creatively directed by Jonathan Stephenson of Rocket and made by Sean Sutcliffe and Terence Conran’s Benchmark Furniture company in their Dorset and Berkshire workshops – with the close involvement of Risom himself. 

4074 low table
solid oak with veneer or formica top

This table was designed in 1970 
and was included in one of the last groups of furniture released 
by Jens Risom Design Inc prior to the sale, and subsequent demise of the company

742 all-purpose desk
solid oak or walnut with Elmo leather top and formica-bottom drawer

This desk was designed by Risom in 1968 
and was paired with the C 275 side chair which had been designed a decade earlier

T 390 low table with magazine rack
solid oak or walnut with veneer top

One of Risom's most recognisable pieces from 
the 1950s with his hallmark of a 'floating top'
and the distinctive feature of a magazine rack 
at one end

T 621 bench with cushion

solid oak or walnut frame with veneer top and upholstered cushion 

in Kvadrat fabric or Elmo leather

A typically versatile piece by Risom from 1955 :
a table that with the addition of an upholstered cushion becomes a bench

U 431 low armless chair 
oak or walnut with upholstery in Kvadrat fabric or Elmo leather
This chair first appeared in the 1955 catalogue of Jens Risom Design Inc, 
but by the 1959 edition it was no longer in production

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. He established Jens Risom Design Inc in 1946 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. Risom continues to live and work in New Canaan, Connecticut.

" Risom's furniture from the 1950s and 1960s is very down to earth and functional, but still has enormous elegance. It is a fusion of the craft tradition he learned in Denmark with American modernism and the hi-tech of American production methods. It is significant that he always wants to be known as a Danish-born American designer, not a Danish designer. His designs are more pared down than those of the likes of Hans Wegner or Finn Juhl." 
(Jonathan Stephenson/Rocket, quoted in July 2010 Wallpaper*)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Scandinavian furniture at movies : Hitchcock's Vandamm House on the peak of Mount Rushmore

One of my friends just reminded me yesterday of "North by Northwest". Written and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, starring the so elegant Cary Grant & Eva Marie Saint, the film, considered one of the best Hitchcock films ever made, was also one of my favourites when young watching 1950s films with my father...

The ending takes place on the peak of Mount Rushmore.

Everything ends there indeed in a unbelievable hilltop house of limestone in the manner of Frank Lloyd Wright ("Of the hill, not on top of the hill"). 

Designed by a set of designers (Robert Boyle, William A. Horning, Merrill Pye, Henry Grace and Frank McKelvey), the Vandamm House shows a wonderful modernist style with a kind of furniture we love : "The luxurious Modernism of the house extended to its furnishings. The living room set was dressed in the best of 1958’s furniture and art, and it makes a very interesting point. The furniture is largely Scandinavian Modern. There is Chinese art, and a Pre-Colombian statue figures prominently in the action." (

Monday, December 13, 2010

As a tribute to Philippe Denys - Part II Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Hans Belmann and others

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976)

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976)

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976)

"Tale", Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914-1976)

Two beautiful chairs, by the Swiss architect & Mies van der Rohe's student, 
Hans Belmann

A wonderful anonymous desk, Artek edition

Seven very nice chairs in wood by the American designer,
 Richard Schultz

Sunday, December 12, 2010

As a tribute to Philippe Denys : Part I - Poul Kjaerholm

Philippe Denys was a great Belgian collector and art dealer we met in his beautiful gallery in Brussels. 

He died suddenly last summer. As a tribute to him, Pierre Bergé & associés presents an incredible part of his collection ; the auction sale will be going on this week (Brussels, salle des beaux-arts, dec., 15th)...
Let's admire his choice of Poul Kjaerkolm's furniture...

Poul Kjaerholm & Jorgen Hoj

PK 55 desk

PK 22 chair

PK 91

PK 11 chair

For Poul Kjaerholm in our collection : 

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Swing seat by Fritz Hansen and Louis Vuitton

Series 7™ swing seat prototype after Arne Jacobsen (2005), 
one-of-a-kind model created for Fritz Hansen™
auctioned for $18,000, with proceeds from the sale donated to the Danish AIDS Foundation

Louis Vuitton Collection. © LOUIS VUITTON / PHILIPPE JUMIN

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"A midcentury monumentum"

(Poul Kjaerholm's PK 22)

"Popular 1950s paradigms are now being revitalised for contemporary living..." : read in FT's How to spend it 's latest issue. 

To read more and see the sumptuous pages on the extraordinary website :

(Picture :

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Teak and rosewood by Arne Vodder

(Seen in AD Spain, november 2010, as an anonymous Danish piece of furniture)

  Arne Vodder (1926-2009) is another famous Danish architect and designer whose sideboards and chests of drawers in teak or rosewood we love. Student to Finn Juhl, he designed for Fritz Hansen. 

To be followed...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hans Wegner and minimalist Japanese modern architecture

In 2007 two young Japanese architects, Takei Makoto and Nabeshima Chie (TNA Architects), imagined a contemporary design house in a desert and unexpected wooded landscape, near the town of Karuizaman some 185 miles northwest of Tokyo : with this mini-tower, set far from the roads, designed as a serene retreat melding modern shape and natural environment, they won the Wall Paper Design Awards 2008 for the Best New Private House.

Their house is wrapped in rings of glass and wood and has an uninterrupted 360-degree view of the forest. In an area that was dark, this plot of land was originally unmarkable. But they were undeterred by the conditions and set about designing the house : they designed rings around the facade so that areas of private space and utilities could be met. The height of each ring was decided by the function concealed behind it. The glass between the rings allow you to look straight into the forest, so the whole house appears to dissolve into the forest. 

If the architects designed all the furniture and woolcrafts, they wanted one mid-century designer to enhance the minimalist spirit of the area : Hans Wegner's wonderful chairs and armchairs are absolutely perfect in this modern conception of space and life !







Ideat, n°80, november 2010

... and for these chairs and armchairs in our collection