Just as with Pierre Paulin's F 444, or Le Corbusier's LC4 Chaise, or even Walter Papst's Three-Legged Chair, the much anticipated re-issue of classic mid-century work by designer Jens Risom represents a fortuitous collaboration between past and present. Or perhaps I should say "present and present," since the 94-years young Risom is still working and was very much involved in the Rocket re-issue of nine pieces dating from the 50s and 60s. The third co-conspirator in this furniture event is manufacturer Benchmark, who, along with Rocket, jointly secured the rights to these nine designs.
Collection by Jens Risom in collaboration with Rocket and Benchmark.
Risom was born and bred in Denmark, attending the School for Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen from 1935 to 1938 until he emigrated to the U.S. in 1939. He currently resides in New Canaan, CT. Given Benchmark's and Rocket's UK roots, the re-release has a pronounced international tinge, even more so when one considers the collection offers upholstery options in fabric from Denmark's Kvadrat or leather from Sweden's Elmo. But then, one only need glance at any of these nine pieces to intuit Risom's worldly and refined aesthetic. Each of the pieces (easy chair, side chair, desk, various coffee tables, two magazine tables, and an upholstered bench) is exhibited in oak or walnut and various shades of the aforementioned Kvadrat fabric or Elmo Leather.
Perhaps the most famous of these pieces is the U 620 Bench, an iconic Risom piece featuring a simple and sleek wooden understructure and a plush upholstered top in colorful capitonn©. You might also like the T 390 Low Table, whose expert joinery and "floating top" effect define a minimalist yet warm aesthetic. But for my money, you can't beat the T 539 Table, a piece that explored the tripod structure before it became all the rage, that made bold new strides towards high functionality while maintaining an appealing appearance.
When T 539 first appeared, its catalog entry had the accompanying tag, "furniture with a signature." The sentiment holds true some 60+ years later. Risom's work has been described by Rocket's Jonathan Stephenson as a fusion of Denmark craft and hi-tech American production methods. The synthesis explains why Risom's designs still have such broad appeal. No one sums this up better than Risom himself: "I set out to design contemporary furniture"¨ that was comfortable and practical to use... I developed an American version of"¨ Scandinavian modern furniture."