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Jack Lenor Larsen (born 1927) is a textile designer, author and collector and promoter of traditional and contemporary craftsmanship in all its forms.
Larsen was born in 1927 in Seattle, WA to Norsk-Canadian parents. In 1945 he enrolled at the School of Architecture at the University of Washington. The following year he studied furniture design and began weaving, moving to Los Angeles to focus upon fabrics. In 1949 he studied ancient Peruvian textiles in Seattle and opened a studio. In 1951 he earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan, and opened a studio in New York. He currently lives in New York.
Since the 1950s he has designed thousands of fabric patterns and textiles, many associated with the modernist architecture and furnishings popular with post-1945 American consumers. In 1952, Larsen founded his firm, Jack Lenor Larsen, Incorporated. In 1951 the interior designer Florence Knoll turned down his textile designs as too "individualistic", but by 1953, she was commissioning olive-green and orange coloured Larsen textiles for furnishings. From the beginning, Jack Lenor Larsen's distinctive hand-woven furnishing fabrics with random repeats in variegated, natural yarns were popular with clients such as Marilyn Monroe. In 1958, he designed his first aeroplane upholstery, for Pan American Airlines. His passion for international weaving and textile crafts made him familiar with techniques such as ikat and batik, which he introduced to the American public, and by 1974, Larsen's company was manufacturing fabrics in 30 countries. Since the 1950s the company has commissioned textile designs by artists and designers including Anthony Ballatore, Sari Dienes, Yoshiko Kogo and Timo Sarpaneva.
In 1968, Larsen designed the interiors and fabrics of Braniff International Airways innovative Terminal of the Future at the Dallas, Texas, carrier's Dallas Love Field hub. He also designed the textiles for use in the interior of Braniff's new Boeing 747 in 1970.
Examples of Larsen's work are preserved in the collections of major museums around the world, and he is one of only two design houses to have been the subject of an exhibition at the Palais du Louvre. Larsen Incorporated merged with Cowtan & Tout, the American subsidiary of the London-based fabric company Colefax and Fowler in July 1997.
Larsen's East Hampton house, "LongHouse", completed in 1992, was built as a collaboration with the architect Charles Forberg; their 30th project together. It is a large house, with 13,000-square-foot (1,200 m2) of floorspace spread across 18 spaces and four floors. The design is inspired by the important Ise Shrine in Japan. The building is raised on stilts and the spaces are divided by fabric sliding panels, which showcase Larsen's fabrics and his collection of historical and contemporary crafts, including works by Lucie Rie, Wharton Esherick, Edward Wormley, and a glass chandelier by Dale Chihuly, who Larsen encouraged to take up glass-blowing. While the house is not open to the general public, the landscaped sculpture garden surrounding it is regularly open to the public. Sculptures in the garden include works by Willem de Kooning, Sol LeWitt, and Yoko Ono among others.