Jens Risom Furniture
Jens Risom is a Danish furniture designer, regarded as one of the most widely influential furniture designers of the 20th century.
Brief history and description of designer
Jens Risom was born in Copenhagen, Denmark, on 8th May 1916. Risom learnt his craft at Copenhagen’s School of Industrial Arts and Design. He started his career by primarily designing textiles. Risom moved to New York in 1939, where he was asked to design for the Rockefeller Centre’s ‘House of Ideas’, an event intended to provide inspirational home ideas to customers.
In 1942, Risom designed several pieces for the Hans Knoll Company, with the agreement that Risom designed the furniture, whilst Knoll marketed it. This initial collection contained the simple, minimalist Scandinavian style which typified much of Risom’s later work.
After serving in the US Army in 1943, the designer formed Jens Risom Design in 1946, with an advertising campaign which sought to establish Risom as a well-known figure within the American design community. During his career in furniture design, Rison designed furniture for many prominent figures, which contributed to the growth of the Jens Risom brand.
Risom eventually sold his company in 1970 so as to pursue other interests, and was knighted with the Danish Knight’s Cross in 1996.
Guide for Collectors
Risom was amongst the first designers to introduce Scandinavian design to the United States of America, and one of Risom's designs became famous after being selected by Lyndon B. Johnson for inclusion in the Oval Office.
He was also one of six furniture designers to be featured in a 1961 Playboy magazine profile, which further increased his industry prominence. Several of Risom's designs have achieved 'modern classic' status which enhances their collectability, with his furniture being displayed at the National Design Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and several other prominent design galleries.
Notable auction sales
Risom's work sells for both high and low prices; at the lower end of the scale are items such as a Rolling Bar Cart Server, sold by Uniques and Antiques for $80 on 31st August 2010, and the Mid Century Desk sold for $150 from C. Downing Auctions on 5th February 2011.
In the middling price-range are the Chest/Dresser sold from Concept Art Gallery on 21st November 2009 for $225, the Executive Desk from Uniques and Antiques, sold for $450 on 10th April 2007, and the Teak Armchairs bought from Rago Modern Auctions for $550 on 9th March 2003.
Towards the upper end of the financial scale are the Dining Chairs purchased from Daniel Donnelly Vintage Auction, sold for $750 on 12th March 2011, and the Jens Risom expandable table sold by the Treadaway Gallery for $800 on 14th September 2008.
The most costly Risom items sold in recent years include a sofa sold by the Treadaway Gallery on 22nd May 2011 for $1900, a pair of lounge chairs, sold for $2100 from Rago Arts and Auction Center for $2100 on 2nd October 2011, and a walnut extension table, sold from Rose Hill Auction Gallery for $3000 on 31st January 2005.