Published: December 29, 2020
EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. – Jack Lenor Larsen, among the most iconic American textile designers of the Twentieth Century, passed away from natural causes at LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton. He was 93 years old.
Born in 1927 to parents Mabel and Elmer Larsen, Jack completed his undergraduate degree at the School of Architecture at the University of Washington and his MFA at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan. Just a year after he graduated from Cranbrook, Larsen would establish Jack Lenor Larsen, Incorporated, which propelled his designs to the forefront of the industry as he received commissions from Florence Knoll, Frank Lloyd Wright, Eero Saarinen, Marilyn Monroe and others.
Larsen was tapped for major commissions by airlines, including airplane upholstery for Pan Am in the 1950s and Braniff International Airways in the late 1960s.
Larsen’s midcentury textile design was informed by his interest in handwoven fabrics with random repeats, many of them drawing from international traditions. His business approach followed his multicultural ethos to textiles, with his fabrics created in more than 30 countries throughout the years.
He was bestowed honorifics throughout his storied career, including the recent 2016 Director’s Award from the Cooper Hewitt.
Acquired by the designer in 1975 and his home completed in 1992, his 16-acre East Hampton estate, LongHouse, served as his residence, nature preserve and a public sculpture garden. The artists on view in that collection include Dale Chihuly, Yoko Ono, Sol LeWitt, Willem de Kooning and Buckminster Fuller.
LongHouse released the statement, “Jack accepted his mortality years ago. He created a foundation to ensure that LongHouse will live in perpetuity. He appointed trustees and committee chairs to make certain that LongHouse will survive and thrive. He created structures for the garden, for art, for education, for philanthropy and for day-to-day management. Staff and volunteers, docents and interns, are all in place and continue to work tirelessly to advance the future of LongHouse. This is our gift to Jack. That was his gift to us.
“Jack’s credo guided him and will guide us as we go forward. We will think, in his words, ‘not of what is maximum, but rather, of what is optimum.’ That said, our goal is his…’to stay relevant rather than reverent.'”
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