In the world of textiles, Jack Lenor Larsen is an icon. As one of the most influential fabric designers in our lives, Larsen is an excellent weaver, but also much more. At LongHouse, at his home in East Hampton, has created a remarkable 16-acre reserve and sculpture garden, seasonally open to members and the public. With a mission of everyday life with art, LongHouse Reserve was the inspiration for the first Jack performance of a collection of fabrics, perfect for the creative indoor / outdoor lifestyle he supports. Please join Susanna and me at LongHouse to see his vision, view of the collection in situ and Jack’s amazing approach to art and life.
At LongHouse, visitors can experience art in all its forms, especially outdoors where gardens serve both as living art and as a backdrop for over 60 contemporary sculptures – Chinese artist Sui Jianguo 2002 Legacy Mantle (Mao’s jacket) in the background behind Susanna and Jack.
As a collector, curator, prolific author, art advocate, supporter of artists and craftsmen, and gardener, Larsen has had an unspeakable impact on the creative community. The main floor in LongHouse downstairs includes pieces by such prominent furniture designers as Bruno Mathsson, TH Robsjohn-Gibbings, Sori Yanagi mixed with antique Thai baskets, a Japanese rattan rug and a lounger made of Larsen furniture upholstered in his new Cakewalk fabric.
With a background in architecture and a passion for the craft, Jack is a pioneer of recognizable modern textile design based on ancient and global techniques that were eventually produced in 30 countries and are now in museums around the world. One of his most popular designs from the 1950s, Midsummer, inspired by paintings by Matisse and Tiffany, translated into jacquard in the new collection, below.
His fabrics were immediately popular with architects who appreciated the emphasis on structure and texture. Larsen has worked for almost every great architect (except Corbusier) from Saarinen and Breuer to Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Skidmore. They not only commissioned him, but he served as a teacher. When he taught weaving at Cranbrook, the great Louis Kahn was a student and in fact Larsen convinced student Dale Chihuly to try to blow glass – the artist’s Cobalt Reeds at LongHouse, downstairs.
Although he is a major player in the Craft movement, he is also a visionary who has always known how to adapt, using new technology to bridge the past and present. He was the first to design upholstery for airlines and print a pattern on velvet for furniture, and he attributes much of his success to staying agile and defying conventions. His innovative techniques have attracted an impressive list of clients, ranging from Marilyn Monroe to furniture designer Edward Wormley.
Nature and gardening have always been an inspiration, so it was natural that Jack finally created a line of fabrics for indoor and outdoor performance Sunbrella which operates outdoors in four-season gardens at LongHouse as well as indoors. So thank you Jack, for welcoming us to your magical world at LongHouse and Larsen Fabrics u Cowtan, to sponsor and share the Larsen Performance collection.