Copenhagen-born designer Jens Risom, last of the iconic mid-century Modernists still living, turns 100 on May 8, 2016. Risom left Denmark at the age of 23 and settled in New York to make his way as a cosmopolitan designer in America. He is the man who brought sleek, comfortable and functional Scandinavian style to the fore in the US, extending his reach beyond home furnishings to decor for offices, hospitals and libraries -- even to the Oval Office, where LBJ used a favorite of the designer's swiveling desk chairs for many years.
What a pleasure to celebrate the birthday of this design giant, rather than to be writing a commemorative piece about him!
Happy Birthday, Jens!
A video interview with Jens Risom can be seen here.
Below: In 1961, Playboy magazine assembled many of the most famed
designers of the era for a spread about the future of "manly-man decor."
Below are photos of some of Risom's most popular designs.
Design Within Reach (dwr.com), which has studios all over the US, is re-issuing
some of these, in celebration of Risom's landmark birthday.
The Risom Lounge Chair (1941) is considered "the most casual high end lounge chair
of its time." Using woven cotton webbing with beech and maple, this iconic set
has become the definition of modern casual living.
Jens Risom Walnut Executive Desk with polished chrome hardware
I just realized that my writing desk is a
(low budget) replica of this beautiful piece,
down to the placement of the locks and shapes of the drawer handles.
Tandem Seat and Table Unit
Risom was a huge fan of built-ins. This seating unit allows for handy
storage of reading materials in the middle, while leaving
a small tabletop free for a coffee cup or cocktail glass.
° ° ° ° ° ° ° ° °
At the age of 100, Risom is still actively pursuing his career, and his home
is well furnished with his popular creations. Above: An array of his
utilitarian and stylish cabinets, with whimsical multicolored paneling.
Below: A workstation in his office keeps a multitude of tools and papers organized
both vertically and horizontally. Ephemera from the early days of his
Jens Risom Design company decorate the wall.
Link here to see a short Wall Street Journal-produced video about
Jen Risom's influence on and philosophy of mid-century modern design.
(Yes, Mad Men is mentioned!)