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Jens Risom (1916–2016)

Modernist designer Jens Risom, best known for bringing midcentury Danish furniture to the United States, died on December 9 at his home in Connecticut at the age of one hundred, Jacob Bernstein of the New York Times reports.

Risom, who worked with Knoll studio, created one of the first mass-produced modernist chairs in 1942. His furniture is in the collections of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Smithsonian Design Museum.

Born in Copenhagen in 1916, Risom was the son of an architect who worked in the neoclassical style. He attended the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts––now called the Danish Design School––where he studied under Kaare Klint, a Danish architect known as the father of Danish furniture design.
In 1940, he moved to the United Sates, where he met Hans Knoll and designed furniture for him until 1946.

Risom was drafted into the army and served under General George S. Patton before returning to New York and opening his own firm, Jens Risom Design. He was a trustee of the Rhode Island School of Design, and he was knighted by Queen Margrethe II in Denmark.

Auctioneer Richard Wright, who’s sold Risom’s pieces at his auction house, said, “A lot of people think of modernism as cold and clinical or bold and colored, and Risom’s was neither. It’s quiet and warm.”