To his bewilderment, when Jens Risom emigrated from Denmark to the United States to study contemporary American furniture design, finding opportunity to do so was not an easy task. The year was 1939, and at the age of 23 Risom already had attended business school, studied at Copenhagen's School for Arts and Crafts and designed furniture for Kaare Klint and architect Ernst Kuhn.
With a career that has spanned nearly 70 years and is still in the making, Risom made his mark designing one of the first chairs to be manufactured by Knoll®. Constructed of a birch frame and surplus parachute straps, the chair made the best of the few materials available during WWII. When Risom began his collaboration with Knoll in 1941, they set about on a tour of the new "modern" home to gain insight into what would be needed to market a line of modern furniture. After consulting with the architects along the way, Risom was encouraged to try out a few of his Scandinavian-inspired designs that fit the modern bill and the new modern home. The result was the Jens Risom collection, which was featured in one of the first Knoll catalogs.
When he was drafted by the army, Knoll continued to successfully market the simple, well-crafted modern furniture that is Risom's trademark. Many of these items have been in continual production and are much sought-after today. When Risom returned to civilian life in 1946, he broke away from Knoll to open the doors of Jens Risom Design, where he sat at the helm for 25 years. Risom's work continues to reflect the Danish approach to modernism, with its emphasis on traditional values and the human need for warmth, beauty and simplicity.