Jack Lenor Larsen

(b. 1927)

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(1927– )

A leading figure in American textile design in the second half of the 20th century, Larsen's influence was considerable, with many offices, showrooms, and manufacturing centres across the world, consultancy for the US State Department in the Far East, and recognition at international venues such as the Milan Triennale, where he was awarded a Gold Medal in 1964. One of his major achievements was to incorporate the ‘feel’ of hand‐woven textiles in mass‐produced fabrics. His design involvement extended across a wide range of media, including carpets, tableware, and furniture. He studied architecture and furniture at the University of Seattle, also studying at the University of Southern California and the Cranbrook Academy of Art, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in 1951. After moving to New York he founded Jack Lenor Larsen Incorporated in 1953, his detailed knowledge of industrial weaving techniques (gained from Marianne Strengell, head of Weaving at Cranbrook as well as his Master's thesis on designing for mass production) gave him an important edge in designing for industry. Three years later he established the Larsen Design Studio, with a considerable expansion of his business in the 1960s and 1970s with interests in Europe and the Far East including a takeover in 1972 of Thaibok Fabriks Ltd., an American firm established in Bangkok in the 1940s. In 1973 he established a carpet division and leather division, followed by a furniture division in 1976. Larsen Textiles was bought by Cowtan and Tout (the American subsidiary of Colefax and Fowler) and continued the company's characteristic technical innovation and investment in design excellence with Larsen himself acting as a consultant designer. He played many important design roles including those of design director and US Commissioner for the XIII Milan Triennale of 1964 and president of the American Crafts Council (1981–9). He has also held a number of educational posts and has been curator of many exhibitions including Wall Hangings (1968–9) and Wall Hangings—the New Classicism (1977) at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Interlacing: The Elemental Fabric (1986) at the Textile Museum, Washington, DC. His own work has featured in many exhibitions including a retrospective (1979–80) at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Larsen has also written extensively on textiles including A Weaver's Memoir (1998).

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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