We shouldn’t be surprised by the pure honesty of Jens Risom’s holiday home on Block Island. Vanity and self-importance have never been a trademark of the great Danish designer’s work, even as his Risom Lounge Chairs for Knoll remain amongst the most lusted-after furniture icons of the Mid-Century era. What is surprising, though, is that his lovely shingled seaside house is a prefabricated model, customized by Risom nearly half a century ago in his quest to build a summer house on a modest budget—$20,700, to be exact.
Miniscule by today’s standards—a mere 700 sq feet—and sitting on an idyllic parcel of land, the house’s storybook A-frame profile, utilitarian kitchen and wood-burnished warmth are reminders of how Risom’s design sensibilities have never strayed from the things that matter, his focus ever tuned to an object’s (or a house’s) sense of purpose. The son of an architect, Risom, now 97, knew the pitfalls of designing buildings.