All images are from the Knoll Archive or courtesy of Jens Risom unless otherwise noted.
Jens Risom celebrated his 100th birthday on May 8, 2016. Risom is the first original Knoll designer. His career with Knoll began in the early 1940s, when he joined the Hans G. Knoll Furniture Company as the sole designer of interiors and furniture. Risom and Hans Knoll (with whom Risom shares a birthday) had met in New York City, where the pair collaborated on an exhibition for the New York World's Fair. Hans Knoll asked Risom, who had been looking for a promoter and manufacturer, to help him design interiors.
With Hans Knoll handling client relations and Risom planning interiors and designing furniture as needed, the pair began to take on more design projects. In 1942, they printed the first Knoll Catalog, including 15 new pieces designed by Risom. It was the very first furniture commissioned specifically by Knoll. As they say, the rest is history.
Today, Knoll celebrates Jens Risom's centennial and recognizes the Risom Collection for its enduring simplicity, humanism, and personality. Born of the constraints of wartime material shortages, Risom developed the collection (then known as the 600 Series) by ingeniously using scrap wood and off-cast nylon straps, the waste of parachute production.
The stories and conversations linked below highlight Jens Risom and his talent for making approachable designs that are modern in every sense of the word. Happy Birthday, Jens.