There’s Still Much to Learn From Jack Lenor Larsen

Object & Thing heads to the late textile designer’s LongHouse in East Hampton, where his trove of items collected around the world puts a fresh spin on an array of pieces by contemporary designers.

All photography by Adrian Gaut

Jack Lenor Larsen was one of the most influential textile designers of his era—an endeavor that instilled a deep appreciation for craft and motivated him to travel the world as a voracious and discerning collector of objects. He’d bring them back to LongHouse, his tranquil East Hampton estate anchored by a Shinto-inspired house designed in collaboration with architect Charles Forberg. Inside, a medley of worldly objects mingled with local finds that he’d constantly rearrange to see familiar items afresh. 

LongHouse remained open only to Larsen’s friends and family for decades, but upon his death, in 2020, he expressed a desire for the house to open for all—his gift to future visitors. That caught the attention of Abby Bangser, the Object & Thing founder who has brought roving design showcases to historic residences by Gerald Luss, Eliot Noyes, and James Rose. With the help of venerable curator Glenn Adamson and gifted stylist Colin King, the fair’s latest outing, “A Summer Arrangement” on the home’s guest level, proves there’s much wisdom to glean from Larsen’s non-hierarchical approach to arranging objects.

“Larsen liked to say his work would never be done,” says Carrie Rebora Barratt, director of LongHouse, “and meant for his arrangements to be carried on by artists who’d be inspired by his collections and home.” That notion applies to the dozens of talents featured inside, many of whom are debuting never-before-seen work for the occasion. 

Larsen’s beloved Magnum fabric on the guestroom bed inspired wall-mounted textile works by Liz Collins and Kiva Motnyk; ceramic vessels by Rashid Johnson and Johnny Ortiz-Concha are perched atop Larsen’s collection of Wharton Esherick tables. Also not to miss: Simone Bodmer-Turner’s first-ever paintings and wood combs on petite pedestals by Teague’s Path. 

“We’re still catching up to Jack Lenor Larsen,” Adamson writes. “His all-embracing vision of art, craft, and nature remains a model to which most of us can only aspire. Not that we should stop trying. As another season has come to LongHouse, we look back with respect and forward in anticipation. For there are many arrangements to come.”

“A Summer Arrangement: Object & Thing at LongHouse” will be on view at LongHouse Reserve (133 Hands Creek Road, East Hampton) until September 3. 

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