Textile Magnate and Designer Jack Lenor Larsen Dies at 93

Lauren Wicks
·3-min read
Photo credit: Courtesy of Long House Reserve
Photo credit: Courtesy of Long House Reserve

From Veranda

Designer, weaver, mentor, author, curator, entrepreneur, and cultural scholar Jack Lenor Larsen died Tuesday evening of natural causes at 93 years old of. He died peacefully at his home and life's legacy, LongHouse Reserve, a spectacular 16-acre arts center and garden in East Hampton, New York. Peter Olsen, Larsen's companion of nearly 30 years, was at his side at his passing. The multi-hyphenate certainly made the most of his 93 years, impacting the lives of many creatives, hobbyists, and enthusiasts.

Larsen's impact on the design world began in earnest in New York City in the early '50s, when he founded his first textile studio, Jack Lenor Larsen, Inc. of which Frank Lloyd Wright was a notable early patron. He quickly became a major tastemaker and influencer in the design industry, particularly when it came to midcentury modern design and textiles. The designer was passionate about natural yarns—far ahead of his day—and diligently sought to preserve, appropriate, and preserve Asian, African, and indigenous patterns. Larsen continued to design up until 2019, his final collection being a line of Sunbrella performance textiles, which he said, "now live harmoniously both outside in the gardens and inside LongHouse on my iconic furnishings.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of Long House Reserve
Photo credit: Courtesy of Long House Reserve

Larsen's honors and accolades are virtually endless, with some of his most notable mentions being recognition from The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, honorary doctorates from schools like The Parsons School of Design and Royal College of Art, and requests to curate at museums like MoMA and The San Francisco Museum of Art. The designer is one of only four Americans to have been honored with an exhibition at Palais de Louvre in Paris. His fabrics continue to be honored, with collections residing in the permanent collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The Art Institute of Chicago, and The Victoria & Albert Museum, among others. And his fabrics have been sought from the world's most prestigious names—The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, U.S. presidents (for Air Force One), and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few.

LongHouse Reserve was opened to the public in 1992 to exemplify and encourage living with art in all its forms. LongHouse's programming, artwork, and gardens all serve to reflect global influences and are designed to stimulate a more creative existence in the lives of all who visit. It also houses his extensive collections of historic and contemporary crafts, and his renowned summer galas have long honored creatives of all backgrounds and persuasions. Upon encountering a tour group one day, Larsen said, “How rewarding to witness their excitement…they found a haven where all seemed to make sense, and everything is so beautiful! Passions were aroused and the question answered—how to make their lives more real, less conformist, with no thought of dollar signs? Being in it. This is what LongHouse is all about.”

Photo credit: Courtesy of LongHouse Reserve
Photo credit: Courtesy of LongHouse Reserve

A memorial service will be announced in the near future and those wishing to honor Larsen's legacy may wish to make a contribution to the Jack Lenor Larsen Endowment Fund, which was created to support the maintenance and programming of LongHouse Reserve, preserving his legacy.

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