All you need to know about Jens Risom: A Seat at the Table
We’re proud to publish the first monograph on the life and work of this legendary Danish-American mid-century designer
We often look back on the wartime arrival of European artists, architects and designers in the United States as a key juncture in the history of mid-century modernism. For Jens Risom, the event itself was less than spectacular. “I have to say that I was very alone,” author Vicky Lowry quotes the trail-blazing furniture designer as saying in her new design monograph, Jens Risom: A Seat at the Table. “There was nobody to receive me, and nobody to know I was coming.”
In hindsight, the 23-year-old Danish-born designer needn't have worried. Enquiring at the newly founded Museum of Modern Art shortly after his arrival, he found work with the progessive interior decorator, Dan Cooper, and was soon constructing pieces for commissions from George Nelson, while also making his name within US design circles, reshaping the look and feel of modern America for generations to come.
His signature chair helped to launch Knoll, one of America’s most beloved furniture brands; his advertising campaigns were shot by the acclaimed New York fashion photographer, Richard Avedon; he was featured in Playboy magazine alongside Charles Eames; he was knighted by the Queen of Denmark; (and he was less warmly received by Frank Lloyd Wright, when Risom suggested Wright’s furniture looked a little uncomfortable).
Jens Risom: A Seat at the Table, the first and only monograph on this innovative, influential designer, takes readers through Risom’s life and education in Copenhagen, and nascent freelance career in New York, through to his Knoll years, and up to his legacy and presence in the 21st century.
It details his collaborations with Georg Jensen and Hans Knoll, the creation of his own company – Jens Risom Design – his celebrated prefab house on Block Island, RI, as well as his legacy and presence in the 21st century.
The designer, who died in 2016 aged 100, underwent something of a renaissance in later life, with Knoll reissuing key Risom designs in 1997, and two London institutions — Rocket Gallery and Liberty Gallery — staging retrospectives of the designer’s work in 2008.
Our new book continues to burnish Risom’s legacy, with its trove of imagery, including hand-drawn sketches, rare catalogue pages and archival photographs, as well as other treasures, such as pages from the diary of Iben, Risom’s wife, recording their cross-country road-trip with Hans Knoll.
Lowry has added a section dedicated to key Risom pieces that are still in production today, as well as an extensive inventory, logging every single Risom piece ever produced.
Viewed cover to cover, Jens Risom: A Seat at the Table is truly a valuable piece of design history in its own right. Designers, interiors professionals, and amateur mid-century lovers will enjoy this book, as will cultural historians, architects and anyone interested in how pioneering Europeans such as Risom influenced the aesthetics of 20th century America, and beyond.