At Home with Jack Lenor Larsen at LongHouse Reserve

Susanna Salk and Jack Lenor Larsen via Quintessence

In the world of textiles, Jack Lenor Larsen is an icon. As one of the most influential fabric designers of our lifetime, Larsen is an accomplished weaver but also much more. At LongHouse, his home in East Hampton, he has created an extraordinary 16 acre reserve and sculpture garden, open seasonally to members and the public.  With a mission of living with art every day, LongHouse Reserve was the inspiration for Jack’s first performance fabric collection, perfect for the indoor/outdoor creative lifestyle he espouses. Please join Susanna and me at LongHouse to see his vision, a look at 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 the gardens serve as both living art themselves and a backdrop for over 60 contemporary sculptures – Chinese artist Sui Jianguo’s 2002 the Legacy Mantle (Mao’s Jacket) in the background behind Susanna and Jack.

Susanna Salk and Jack Lenor Larsen via Quintessence

As a collector, curator, prolific author, advocate of the arts, supporter of artists and artisans and gardener, Larsen has had untold influence on the creative community. The main floor at LongHouse, below, includes pieces by such distinguished furniture designers as Bruno Mathsson, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings, Sori Yanagi mixed with antique Thai baskets, a Japanese rattan rug and a daybed from Larsen furniture upholstered in his new Cakewalk fabric.

Main floor at LongHouse Reserve via Quintessence

Larsen Performance Cakewalk via Quintessence

With a background in architecture and a passion for craft, Jack pioneered distinctive modern textile designs based on ancient and global techniques that were eventually manufactured in 30 countries and are now featured in museums around the world. He has translated one of his most popular designs from the 1950s, Midsummer, inspired by images of Matisse and Tiffany, into a jacquard in the new collection, below.

Larsen Performance fabric Midsummer via Quintessence

His fabrics were immediately popular with architects who appreciated the emphasis on structure and texture. Larsen worked for almost every great architect (except Corbusier) from Saarinen and Breuer to Frank Lloyd Wright and Louis Skidmore. He was not only commissioned by them, but served as a teacher. When teaching weaving at Cranbrook, the great Louis Kahn was a student and it was in fact Larsen who convinced student Dale Chihuly to try blowing glass – the artist’s Cobalt Reeds at LongHouse, below.

Chihuly Cobalt Reeds at LongHouse Reserve via Quintessence

And while 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 past and present. He was the first to design upholstery for airlines and to print pattern on velvet for furnishings and attributes much of his success to staying nimble and defying convention. His innovative techniques have attracted an impressive roster of clients ranging from Marilyn Monroe  to furniture designer Edward Wormley.

Larsen Performance fabric at LongHouse Reserve

Nature and gardening have always been inspirations so it was natural for Jack to finally create an indoor/outdoor performance fabric line with Sunbrella that functions as well outdoors in the four seasons gardens at LongHouse as it does inside. So thank you Jack, for welcoming us to your magical world at LongHouse and Larsen Fabrics at  Cowtan, for sponsoring and sharing the Larsen Performance collection.

Larsen Performance Collection at LongHouse via Quintessence

all photos by Stacey Bewkes for Quintessence

8 thoughts on “At Home with Jack Lenor Larsen at LongHouse Reserve

  1. I’ve been in the design business since 1960, and have always admired, and envied the designs of Jack Lenor Larsen. Each one of them is a classic in their own way, I wish that there was a book cataloging all of his work.

  2. Surely you have seen the news of Mr. Larsen’s passing on December 22, 2020, at age 93, at LongHouse Reserve. RIP. You were lucky to visit him when you did. LongHouse is a great legacy.

  3. I watch my husband’s archeology shows and he watches Quintessence, which is history in the making. Whether I am inspired to file and organize my stacks of books and papers or put a large cloth on the outside door we use as a table (nice benches on either side), I always come away with something I like when I watch the program. I am glad you captured Mr. Larsen before he died for us to appreciate him.

  4. Yes all of these comments resonate with my feelings. Thank you for this wonderful blog and video

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