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Jack Lenor Larsen's Greatest Hits

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To accompany our profile on the iconic textile designer in Dwell's October 2013 issue, we rounded up a few hits from the Larsen design archives. While these are only a small sampling of his decades of work, they represent some of the designer's best-loved fabrics and collaborations.
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  For Louis Kahn’s First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York, Larsen designed a series of gradient wall panels that spanned the color spectrum while using only three yarns: one each of yellow, red, and blue. During the project, Larsen actually taught the renowned architect how to weave.

    For Louis Kahn’s First Unitarian Church in Rochester, New York, Larsen designed a series of gradient wall panels that spanned the color spectrum while using only three yarns: one each of yellow, red, and blue. During the project, Larsen actually taught the renowned architect how to weave.

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  Larsen Design Studio created an extremely complex terry cloth towel collection in the 1960s for J. P. Stevens, then the world’s second-largest textile manufacturer. Architecture uses “two shaded warp stripes with various ‘tweeds,’ combining the two.…The bas-relief derives from voided velvet techniques.”

    Larsen Design Studio created an extremely complex terry cloth towel collection in the 1960s for J. P. Stevens, then the world’s second-largest textile manufacturer. Architecture uses “two shaded warp stripes with various ‘tweeds,’ combining the two.…The bas-relief derives from voided velvet techniques.”

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  Larsen learned about ikat while traveling in central Asia and Afghanistan in the 1970s. “I was impressed by the vibrancy of the patterns and with the process itself—it’s a wonderful handcraft,” he says. “The design is in the fabric not on it.” Later, when Larsen was asked to do a book on plangi, he told the publishers that ikat and the various tie-dye techniques are more interesting. The result is a text on all three called The Dyer’s Art (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977).

    Larsen learned about ikat while traveling in central Asia and Afghanistan in the 1970s. “I was impressed by the vibrancy of the patterns and with the process itself—it’s a wonderful handcraft,” he says. “The design is in the fabric not on it.” Later, when Larsen was asked to do a book on plangi, he told the publishers that ikat and the various tie-dye techniques are more interesting. The result is a text on all three called The Dyer’s Art (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1977).

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  Jason, a diaphanous drapery fabric—a loose weave, metallic thread, and random striae—was custom-designed for the Miller House. “It’s goat hair, which is very inexpensive, but it has character and variety,” says Larsen. “I was trying to imitate birch bark.”

    Jason, a diaphanous drapery fabric—a loose weave, metallic thread, and random striae—was custom-designed for the Miller House. “It’s goat hair, which is very inexpensive, but it has character and variety,” says Larsen. “I was trying to imitate birch bark.”

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  My first print collection was Spice Garden, in 1955; I commissioned a great draftsman [Don Wight] to do a fabric called Bouquet Garni. It’s a beautiful rendering of five herbs. It’s still in the collection in Europe, where they want to see more pattern on window fabrics than we do.

    My first print collection was Spice Garden, in 1955; I commissioned a great draftsman [Don Wight] to do a fabric called Bouquet Garni. It’s a beautiful rendering of five herbs. It’s still in the collection in Europe, where they want to see more pattern on window fabrics than we do.

  • 
  “Originally, Remoulade was a hand-weave, and it was expensive but popular,” says Larsen. “We had a mill man who was clever enough to do it slowly on a power loom, and we did it in three colorways.” Remoulade was featured on pillows for the winter palette in Alexander Girard’s interior design for the 1953 J. Irwin Miller House in Columbus, Indiana; for the summer scheme, Girard used Mexican cotton plaid and Thai silk Larsen fabrics.

    “Originally, Remoulade was a hand-weave, and it was expensive but popular,” says Larsen. “We had a mill man who was clever enough to do it slowly on a power loom, and we did it in three colorways.” Remoulade was featured on pillows for the winter palette in Alexander Girard’s interior design for the 1953 J. Irwin Miller House in Columbus, Indiana; for the summer scheme, Girard used Mexican cotton plaid and Thai silk Larsen fabrics.

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