Jack Lenor Larsen, a legendary designer of textiles who worked with leading figures in modernism, died on December 22 at the age of 93. Larsen, originally from Seattle, studied architecture at the University of Washington before switching to furniture design and weaving and earned an MFA from Cranbrook. He was a perpetual global traveler who elevated the notion of traditional craft within the modern idiom. With a passion for natural yarns, he interpreted the motifs and techniques of varied Asian and African indigenous weaving.
Larsen worked with major 20th century architects: his fabrics were used originally in SOM’s Lever House, in Eero Saarinen’s Irwin Miller House, and chosen by Frank Lloyd Wright for Falling Water, among many other projects.
Larsen was also an avid collector and created LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York, an extensively landscaped 16-acre garden with sculpture by Willem de Kooning, Sol LeWitt, Buckminster Fuller, Bryan Hunt and Yoko Ono. He designed his house, overlooking a pond in the garden, with architect Charles Foberg—a timber and glass structure, completed in 1992, that was inspired by the seventh century Shinto shrine in Ise, Japan. The house, and his personal collections, will now be part of the LongHouse Reserve Foundation and open to the public.
Larsen received many honors over his lifetime, including the Craftsmanship Medal of the American Institute of Architects in 1968. His textiles are in major collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.