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Jens Risom

This week's featured designer was one of the first designers to introduce Scandinavian design in the US

Jens Risom (b. 8 May 1916 – d. 9 December 2016) was a Danish American furniture designer. An exemplar of Mid-Century modern design, Risom was one of the first designers to introduce Scandinavian design in the United States.

Risom was born in Copenhagen, and he trained as a designer at the Copenhagen School of Industrial Arts and Design, where he studied under Ole Wanscher and Kaare Klint. He was classmates with Hans Wegner and Børge Mogensen.

Risom started his career as a furniture developer and interior designer with the architectural firm of Ernst Kuhn. He later relocated to Stockholm, taking a job with a small architectural firm.

In 1939, Risom traveled to New York City to study American design. In 1941, Risom teamed with entrepreneur Hans Knoll and in 1942, they launched the Hans Knoll Furniture Company with 15 of the 20 pieces in the inaugural "600" line designed by Risom. These works included stools, armchairs and lounges, made from cedar and surplus webbing—works which have since become design classics.

Risom decided to launch his own firm, Jens Risom Design (JRD), on 1 May 1946. Risom's reputation as a furniture designer continued to grow, and Risom began to promote Scandinavian design in home furniture to the broader American public.

In 1954, JRD launched a major expansion of its production facilities. In the late 1950s, JRD shifted its focus away from home furnishings and towards office furniture, hospital furniture, and library furniture. One of Risom's executive office chairs became famous when Lyndon B. Johnson chose to use it in the Oval Office.

Risom sold JRD to Dictaphone in 1970, after having run the company for 25 years. He died at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut, at the age of 100.

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