Jens Risom, the Danish-American furniture designer who brought Scandinavian design to prominence in the United States with the introduction of his webbed lounge chair in 1941, died at his home in New Canaan, Connecticut on December 9. He was 100.
The son of prominent Danish architect Sven Risom, the younger Risom, who is oft-regarded as a founding father of midcentury design in America, studied at the Copenhagen School of Industrial Arts and Design alongside Hans J. Wegner. In 1939, he came to the States via New York City to study American design, then teamed up with Hans Knoll a few years later to launch the Knoll furniture company, for which he created 15 of the 20 pieces in the inaugural collection. After a stint in the U.S. Army during World War II, Risom returned to Knoll before establishing his own studio, Jens Risom Design, in 1946.
Risom is best known for the now-iconic lounge chair, which he developed using scraps of wood and rejected nylon straps from parachute production. The chair features a curved wooden frame whose back rest and seat are formed by a tight basket weave of heavy-duty cotton straps. It is still available today from Knoll and Design Within Reach, along with several other designs including an ottoman, desk, and table.
In 1961, Risom was featured in a Playboy magazine profile titled “Design for Living” with fellow midcentury designers Charles Eames, Harry Bertoia, Eero Saarinen, Edward Wormley, and George Nelson.
Watch a video interview with the designer below.