Jack Lenor Larsen (2015)

Jack Lenor Larsen

Jack Lenor Larsen

Jack Lenor Larson has worked as a designer, a researcher, an author and a curator for over 60 years. Developing a distinctive modernist aesthetic, his textiles were selected , in 1952, for the Lever House—New York’s first International Style office building. The company he established grew to become a dominant resource for signature fabrics, especially in interior design and architecture. While running a successful business, Jack also authored books and curated exhibitions, extending his interest in the global textile traditions, even as he incorporated inspirations from these into his fabric lines. Through his work, he has brought attention to artists in craft media as well as the textile traditions of distant cultures.

Born in 1927 in Seattle, he studied architecture at the University of Washington. In 1946, with his interest in design, he took a weaving class that proved transformational. He became a weaver and after some time in the Los Angeles art and design world, he enrolled at Cranbrook Academy of Art, in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. In 1951, Larsen came to New York and founded the firm that bears his name.

His landmark publications include The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi (1971), Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, with Mildred Constantine (1972), The Art Fabric: Mainstream, with Mildred Constantine (1982), and Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric (1986). With each of these publications, he presented a broad yet penetrating overview of textile traditions both contemporary and traditional, bringing his insight and attention to textile- processes into art and design in general as well as to museum scholarship.

Over decades Jack has been an energetic advocate and supporter for artists, artisans, and emerging scholars. His generosity of spirit is matched only by his complete dedication to the field of textile arts. He has received numerous awards including Lifetime Achievement Award, American Crafts Museum (2000), Royal College of Art Honorary Doctorate (2003) Cranbrook Academy of Art Founders Award(2003), The Textile Museum – George Hewitt Meyers Award (2005), Smithsonian – Archives of American Art Medal (2009), among many others. Through his work he has touched the lives of many.

In 1992 he founded LongHouse Reserve in East Hampton, New York as a botanical garden and setting for sculpture. After 25 years this is becoming a museum for design and craftsmanship over millennia.

Further Reading:

LongHouse Reserve website

At Home With Jack Lenor Larsen: A Life’s Warp and Weft. New York Times.

NYSID Presents “Jack Lenor Larsen: 40 Years”—A Retrospective of the Famed Textile Designer

 

PERSONAL BIOGRAPHY

1927 Born to Norsk-Canadian parents in Seattle, WA

1945 Enrolled at school of architecture, University of Washington

1946/47 Studied furniture design and began to weave. Moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on fabric

1949 Returned to Seattle to study ancient Peruvian fabrics; opened studio

1950/51 Cranbrook Academy of Art (Michigan), Master of Fine Arts degree; Opened New York City studio

1957/60/64 Reported the Trienale di Milano for Interiors Magazine

1958-60 Consultant to the State Department for grass weaving projects in Taiwan and Vietnam; visited Southeast Asia

1960-62 Co-Director, Fabric Design Department, Philadelphia College of Art, Pennsylvania

1962 Designer and director of traveling exhibition, Fabrics International: Visited West Africa, Morocco, and the Transvaal

1964 Design Director and U.S. Commissioner, XIII Trienale di Milano

1965 Completed Round House at East Hampton, New York

1966-67 Vice President, Architectural League of New York

1968-69 Co-curator, “Wall Hangings,” The Museum of Modern Art, New York

1974 Designed “Visiona IV” exhibition for Bayer Ag, Frankfurt

1975 Artist-in-Residence, Royal College of Art, London

1976-81 Chairman, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts; Honorary Chair from 1981.

1977 Curator, “Wall Hangings-The New Classicism,” The Museum of Modern Art, NY

1979-80 Rétrospective, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Palais du Louvre

1981 Co-director, “The Art Fabric: Mainstream” traveling exhibition opening at the San Francisco Museum of Art

1981-89 President, American Craft Council, Emeritus, from 1990

1983-84 Editor, “Design Since 1945,” Philadelphia Museum of Art

1986-89 Curator, “Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric” opening at The Textile Museum, Washington, DC

1986-91 Curator, “Splendid Forms” at Bellas Artes Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

1988 Curator, “The Tactile Vessel: New Basket Forms,” Erie Art Museum, Erie, PA

1991 Established the LongHouse Foundation, now LongHouse Reserve, East Hampton, NY

2001-02 Retrospective Exhibit, “Jack Lenor Larsen: The Man and the Cloth”, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Minneapolis, MN. Other venues: American Textile

History Museum, Lowell, MA; The Mingei International Museum, San Diego, CA

2004 “Jack Lenor Larsen: Creator & Collector” New York, NY, Montreal, Quebec; Palm Springs, CA; Allentown, PA

2012 “Jack Lenor Larsen 40 Years”, New York School of Interior Design, New York, NY

COMPANY CHRONOLOGY

1951 Opened New York City studio

1952 Commission: draperies for Lever House lobby, America’s first major postwar high-rise tower.

1953 Established Jack Lenor Larsen incorporated. Began power weaving “handwoven” fabrics such as “Granite” using many yarns and random repeat that became a Larsen style and a widespread market influence

1954 Started the Larsen handprint collection and hand-spun and hand-woven upholsteries in Haiti and Morocco

1958 With Win Anderson, initiated Larsen Design Studio

1958 Designed and produced the first fabrics for jet airliners for Pan Am

1959 First printed velvet upholstery fabrics

1961 Designed and produced first stretch upholstery

1963 Opened Jack Lenor Larsen International in Zurich

1965 Designed Fine Arts Collection of towels, sheets, and blankets for J.P. Stevens

1966 Fabric wall panels for the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, Commissioned by Louis Kahn

1969 Designed first fabrics for 747 jets for Pan Am and Braniff

1971 Filene Center act curtain, Wolf Trap Farm. Commissioned by MacFayden & Knowles.

1972 Acquired Thaibok Fabrics Ltd.

1973 Established Larsen Carpet and Larsen Leather

1974 Silk hangings, Sears Bank & Trust, commissioned by Bruce Graham of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (Chicago)

1976 Established Larsen Furniture division

1978 Act curtain, St. Charles Cultural Center, commissioned by Powell/ Kleinschmidt

1980 Designed porcelain tableware for Dansk International

1982 Designed upholstery collections for Cassina and Vescom

1985 Designed Terra Nova Collection for Mikasa, Martex, et al.

1992 Carpet, wall and window fabrics, leather upholstery for Trustees Dining Room, Metropolitan Museum of Art

1997 Larsen Inc. merges with Cowtan & Tout, the US Subsidiary of Colefax and Fowler, UK

PUBLICATIONS

1967 Elements of Weaving, with Azalea Thorpe, Doubleday & Co., NY

1971 The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, with Dr. Alfred Buhler and Bronwen and Garrett Solyom, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY

1972 Beyond Craft: The Art Fabric, with Mildred Constantine, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY

1975 Fabric for Interiors, with Jeanne Weeks, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY

1981 The Art Fabric: Mainstream, with Mildred Constantine, Van Nostrand Reinhold, NY

1986 Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric, with Betty Freudenheim, Kodansha Int’l. USA, NY

1989 Material Wealth: Living with Luxurious Fabrics, Abbeville Press, U.S., Thames and Hudson, UK

1989 The Tactile Vessel: New Basket Forms, Erie Art Museum, PA

1998 A Weaver’s Memoir, Harry N. Abrams, NY

2004 Jack Lenor Larsen: Creator & Collector exhibition catalog – By David McFadden, Lotus Stack, Mildred Friedman/Merrell Publishers

2010 Jack Lenor Larsen’s LongHouse, by Molly Chappellet: Chronicle Books

TRUSTEE AFFILIATIONS

American Craft Council: Fellow, Trustee, President Emeritus

American Craft Museum:Honorary Trustee

American Institute of Architects: Gold Medalist

American Society of Interior Designers: Associate Member, Honorary Fellow

Architectural League of New York: Past Vice-President

Aspen Design Conference: Elliot Noyes Fellow

Centre International de la Tapisserie Ancienne et Moderne: CITAM Executive Committee

Cooper-Hewitt Museum: Past Chairman, Decorative Arts Committee

Contemporary Craft Association: Advisory Board

Craft & Folk Art Museum: International Advisory Committee

Cranbrook Academy of Art: MFA; Advisory Council

DIFFA: National Honorary Board of Trustees

Fashion Institute: Honorary Ph.D.

Haystack School of Art: Trustee; Honorary Chairman

IFDA: Member, Wise Owl Award

Kendall College of Art & Design: Advisory Council

Metropolitan Museum of Art:Life Member; Visiting Committee, 20th Century Art

Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Montreal: Advisory Council

National Endowment for the Arts: Design Arts Committee

New York School of Design: Advisory Board

Omicron Nu: Honorary Member

Parsons School of Design: Honorary Ph.D.: Governor

Pilchuck Glass Center: International Advisory Council

Rhode Island School of Design: Honorary Ph.D., Advisory Committee

Royal Society of Art: Fellow; Honorary Royal Designer for Industry (RDI)

Royal College of Art: Honorary Ph.D.; Visiting Lecturer

Society of Arts & Crafts: Past Trustee; Advisory Board

Surface Design: Life Member

Tama Art University, Japan: Visiting Professor

The Textile Museum: Trustee Emeritus

University of Washington: Affiliate Professor; President’s Club; Honorary Ph.D.

World Craft Council:former Chief Delegate; Past President USA

PERMANENT COLLECTIONS WITH LARSEN FABRICS INCLUDE:

The Museum of Modern Art, New York

Victoria & Albert Museum, London

Stedelikj Museum of Art, Amsterdam

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Art Institute of Chicago

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Archives of American Art, Washington, DC

Museum Bellerive, Zurich

Kunstindustriet museum, Copenhagen

Cooper-Hewitt Museum, New York

Fashion Institute of Technology, New York

Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh

Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris/Lausanne/Montreal

The Israel Museum, Jerusalem

Minneapolis Museum of Art, Minneapolis

Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore

American Textile History Museum, Lowell, MA

Museum of Arts and Design, New York

SELECTED AWARDS

1964 Gold Medal XIII Trienale di Milano

1968 Gold Medal, American Institute of Architects

1971 Elsie DeWolfe Award, American Institute of Interior Designers

1978 Honorary Fellow ASID; Elliot Noyes Fellow, Aspen International Design Conference; Fellow, American Craft Council

1980 Affiliate Professor, University of Washington

1981 Doctor of Fine Arts – Honorus Causa, Parsons School of Design, New School of Social Research, New York

1982 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence

1983 Honorary RDI (Royal Designer for Industry), Royal Society of Arts, London

1984 Neiman-Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion

1985 National Home Furnishings League “Wise Owl” Award

1988 IFDA “Trailblazer” Award

1989 Design & Art Society, Edith Warton Award for Excellence

1990 Interior Product Designers “Fellowship of Excellence” Award

1991 Collab Award for Excellence in Design, Philadelphia Museum of Art

1992 Color Marketing Group, Dimmick Award; Roscoe Award, Interior Design Magazine; Founder’s Medal, Cranbrook Academy of Art

1993 Brooklyn Museum Design Award for Lifetime Achievement; Interior Designers for Legislation in New York (IDLNY) “Distinguished Achievement” Award

1994 Interior Design Magazine Roscoe Awards: Product of the Year; Best Residential Woven Fabrics – Fielding’

1995 IIDA APEX Award; Textiles Category – Jacob’s Ladder

1996 Good Design Awards; Chicago Athenaeum – Award

1996 ID Magazine; Best Product Award

1996 American Craft Council; Gold Medal Award

1996 Textile Design Institute Medal

1999 World Design Award: Interior Design Magazine Hall of Fame Award

2000 Lifetime Achievement Award, American Crafts Museum

2001 Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, New York School of Interior Design

2003 Aid To Artisans Award For Innovation in Craft

2003 Royal College of Art Honorary Doctorate

2003 Russell Wright Award

2003 Rhode Island School of Design Career Excellence Award

2004 Cranbrook Academy of Art Founders Award

2005 University of Washington Alumnus Award

2005 The Textile Museum – George Hewitt Meyers Award

2009 Smithsonian – Archives of American Art Medal

2012 New York School of Interior Design Lifetime Achievement Award