30 September 2009

Scandinavia, Playboy, and Me

Mid-Century modern is an architectural, interior and product design form that generally describes mid-20th century developments in modern design, architecture, and urban development from roughly 1933 to 1965. Scandinavia was a huge part of this movement and remains, in my opinion, some of the best design ever. Enter Jens Risom. One of the first Danish pioneers of design to bring Scandinavian values of function and craftsmanship to the United States. Jens Risom was part of a new vanguard that helped establish post-war America's leadership role in modern furniture design and manufacturing. Risom, who, with Hans Knoll, began priming the market for modern design as early as 1941 with the Risom-designed 600 line for Knoll. It included the first Knoll chair ever. During their 120th Commencement Ceremonies, The Rhode Island School of Design conferred an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree on Risom, noting he was "one of the most influential furniture designers of the 20th century."

Enter Playboy. The Danish-American furniture designer recalls: “Playboy wanted to become highbrow, you know. It never really worked, but they started out with a big series on architects, and then there was one on furniture designers. The center-fold, which normally pictured a lovely, yummy girl, was instead replaced by a picture of six male furniture designers!” Though the enlightened editorial direction at Playboy in the early 1960s didn’t stick, DWR can attest that the magazine was onto something.

Enter Me. On one of my thrifting adventures I became a very lucky girl. I saw a piece of furniture that I really liked but absolutely did not need. It was in great condition but was going to be trouble to get home and where to put it. It stayed in my mind for several days so I went back with my fiancé and he loved it. As we were checking it out he noticed the paper label and signature. It was a Jens Risom original. Needless to say, $45.00 later, we were the proud owner of design history. I am a lucky girl. yes, I said $45.00

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