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*)

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