History of the Company


The Chicago Tribune newspaper wrote, “2 servicemen returning from war and not finding work turn to making wallpaper in their basement.” Denst and Soderlund Wallpapers had opened for business in a south side Chicago home in 1946 and their unique product was recognized immediately.

Jack Denst and Don Soderlund introduced many bold designs that set a whole new way of decorating a home as stylish as one would style their attire. The first big break of the Denst and Soderlund company came early with a contract to produce wallpaper for the Waldorf Astoria in New York. This gave them a track record and provided funding. Assembling an infrastructure of family members, the design team was prolific and the early success of the new company snowballed.


Businessman Charles S. Miles joined the firm as co-partner and general manager. Bolder, bigger, brighter designs evolved and Miles handled the business expansion allowing Jack and Don to focus on the art.


Magazine articles proclaim, “The new showrooms of Denst and Soderlund, at 148 E. Ontario Street, Chicago, promise to be the center of much that is beautiful, dramatic and different in wallcoverings and exotic fabrics.” The showroom represented: Winfield Foil Papers, Higgins Glass, imported grass cloths, upholstery fabrics, casements, drapery fabrics, ceramic lamps, and accessories. It was the first consumer showroom of its kind.


Ted Ramsey, designer for Denst & Soderlund, Inc. leaves for a business tour of the Far East. He stopped in London for a conference with Rowland Emett. Mr. Ramsey held rights to reproduce Mr. Emett’s designs on wallpapers and fabrics in the United States. The company produces “Transitions One” wallpaper book of Ramsey’s work. Donald K. Soderlund also leaves on a world-wide trip to study wallpaper production methods in all parts of the world.

Merchandise Mart Showroom


Denst & Soderlund, Inc. were known internationally and sold exclusively in prestigious showrooms of key markets throughout the United States. Chicago’s Merchandise Mart leased to them the first private showroom space in its history. The Mart showroom became the company flagship.


The company again shakes up the screen print industry with the introduction of transparent inks allowing for more colors than single screens. Hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles are written about the company, Denst and Soderlund have become celebrities. Consequently, Sonderlund’s interests change and he leaves the company.

Volume 12 introduced the company name change to Jack Denst Designs, Inc. Lead artist for the firm; nothing gets designed without Jack’s touch. Internationally applauded for being trendsetting and forward thinking, Jack was also an observer and influenced by the world around him.  Impressed with European tapestries, Jack created the most stunning of all his art, murals.  The versatility of the murals allows for a gallery size framed serigraph or to be printed as large as multiple 4 x 8 foot panels covering an entire wall.


Just for fun, Denst creates a Happy Birthday Book for the U.S. bicentennial.

1970’s and 80’s

The company continued to focus on murals, producing a collection numbering over 200.


Jack sold the business to his talented nephew and long time staff artist, Tom Olson. Unfortunately design trends in the United States were leading away from wallpaper. Tom was also not the flamboyant, egotistical type that Jack’s reputation had molded around the business.  Jack’s support team retired with him and Tom was running the business with only his brother Paul doing production.


Olson sold Jack Denst Designs Inc. to a wealthy friend who wanted to purchase the business for his personal agenda.  Rights to the name, the entire collection, the production facility “lock, stock, and barrel” were now owned by this millionaire and shipped to Arizona. After several years it appeared the business required more finesse than this owner wanted to embrace and he was ready to retire.


Karen S. Brienzo, spent a summer researching and negotiating the purchase of the company. She is an entrepreneur and long time avid admirer of Denst's art. With cash in hand she flew to Arizona and ‘sight unseen’ bought Jack Denst Designs, Inc. The contract was finalized August, 17, 2009, coincidentally on Jack Denst's birthday. The new parent company is Millepora Corp. an Illinois Corporation dba Jack Denst.


Chicago’s NEOCON design show, Denst designs are introduced in glass.

Selected designs digitally converted and licensing contracts solicited.


In collaboration with MagMile Brand, a line of fabrics and leather goods is introduced.


Brienzo and Tom Olson collaborate and open the Jack Denst Estate Gallery.
Courtesy of Tom Olson
Courtesy of Tom Olson

A short documentary film is produced about Denst life, his wallpaper company and stories from admirers.
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