Often credited with bringing the Scandinavian look to America, Jens Risom crafted enduring, modern furnishings throughout his lengthy career as a designer. Born in Copenhagen in 1916, Risom’s father Sven was a prominent architect. As a young man, he attended the Copenhagen School of Industrial arts and Design where he studied under the Danish masters, Ole Wanscher and Kaare Klint. After graduation, Risom cut his teeth in the design department of Sweden’s Nordiska Kompaniet, before moving to the United States in 1939. In New York City, Risom found freelance work with Dan Cooper and became acquainted with a driven young immigrant from Germany named Hans Knoll. Looking to expand his small company, Knoll asked Risom if he would be interested in designing furniture and interiors for clients around the city. Risom agreed, and in 1942, the duo published the first catalog for the Hans Knoll Company showcasing fifteen pieces from Risom’s 600 line. The inaugural collection included chairs, stools and lounges expertly crafted from spare wood with webbed seats woven from surplus parachute straps (a result of wartime material shortages). Their ingenuity paid off and the venture effectively launched the careers of both men and ushered in a new era of American design.
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