The diversity of styles that characterizes Larsen’s range is the result of his insatiable intellectual curiosity about the world’s textile traditions. He wrote extensively about resist-dye techniques in The Dyer’s Art: Ikat, Batik, Plangi, including fold-dying, in which pleating or folding are combined with resists like clamping or binding to create complex geometric patterns with the soft, blurred effect typical of tie-dye.
Chan Chan’s foundation cloths were firmly-woven high-quality cottons from Switzerland, which were then dyed in Kenya. Fifty-yard lengths of fabric were hand-pleated by fifty Kenyan women standing in a row, then spiral-bound by wrapping it with raffia to a pattern designated on measuring sticks, all while working to a drum beat to maintain consistency across the entire length. While the tied pattern is, of necessity, simpler than the smaller cloths made by West African masters, Larsen added multiple colors in the tradition of West African plangi to lend depth and dimension to the design. Chan Chan was the first fold-dyed upholstery and drapery fabric introduced to the contract market.