Jack Lenor Larsen, an internationally renowned textile designer, weaver, author, basket collector par excellence and versatile champion of traditional and modern craftsmanship, has died at the age of 93. In a tweet reacting to his death, New York-based Cooper Hewitt of the Smithsonian Design Museum said Larsen will be remembered as “one of the most prolific and innovative textile craftsmen of the 20th century.” Among his numerous awards and recognitions, Larsen has also received a director‘s 2015 Cooper Hewitt Award
As he reported Women’s clothing every day, Larsen died at the LongHouse Reservation in East Hampton, New York. The 16-acre silvana combination also includes Larsen’s private residence, a 13,000-square-meter structure inspired by a 7th-century Shinto shrine in Japan, and a spacious nature reserve and public sculpture garden with works by Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono, Willem de Kooning and others. Completed in 1992, LongHouse was designed by Larsen in collaboration with architect Charles Forberg.
A native of Seattle of Nordic descent, who spent his teenage years in Washington on the Kitsap Peninsula in Bremerton, Larsen attended the School of Architecture at the University of Washington and later the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan. As he noticed New York Times, the dramatic landscape of the Pacific Northwest, as well as Asian influences in the region, had a profound impact on his work.
An extremely influential presence in the world of design, Larsen was highlighted in the mid-20th century through his company Jack Lenor Larsen, Inc., which he founded in 1952. During that era, Larsen’s accentuated multicultural patterns of fabrics and textiles featuring natural materials and age-old global patterns and the techniques Larsen collected during his extensive travels, reached status almost ubiquitous thanks to his prolific work with a number of architects, fashion houses, airlines, and furniture manufacturers, including Knoll.
More recently, Larsen has partnered with performance textile maker Sunbrella to introduce a new line called the Larsen Performance Collection.
Today, Larsen’s work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of the Louvre Museum of Art, where, by New York Times, Larsen was the subject of a retrospective for a man in 1981 Times he noted that Larsen’s textiles can also be found in cult houses, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater in rural Fayette County, Pennsylvania, and at Miller’s Eer Saarinen House in Columbus, Indiana. Both are open for public tours as museum-houses.
Reads the announcement of Larsen’s passage on the LongHouse Reserve website:
Ever sublime and filled with dreams, Jack was also a brilliant pragmatist. His family was all of us – those who loved LongHouse and those who loved him. His future is all of us – those who helped make his dream come true and worked with the talent, time and treasure we possess to make the future practical, real and sustainable. Jack was bigger than life and irreplaceable, but we will continue at LongHouse.
Jack accepted mortality many years ago. He created a foundation that will ensure that LongHouse lives forever. He appointed commissioners and board chairs to ensure LongHouse would survive and thrive. He created structures for the garden, for the arts, for education, for philanthropy, and for day-to-day management. Staff and volunteers, assistant professors and trainees, are all on site 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 has guided him and will guide us as we move forward. According to him, we will think “not of what is maximum, but of what is optimal.” That said, our goal is his … ‘to remain relevant, not to be respected.’
Being in Jack’s presence was a privilege — a gift beyond measure. He was a creative and aesthetic genius, adapted to the world in ways that would prove revolutionary. He invented a new kind of public garden, always changing the landscape as his prolific ideas sparked inspiration and experimentation. He was engaged with the world around him and looked to the future … always … he never accepted mediocrity. Jack turned the ordinary and the ordinary into the extraordinary and the unique.
Larsen was survived by his longtime partner Peter Olsen. Plans for the memorial are coming out according to WWD.