Designer: Maarten van Severen

Flemish architect and furniture designer, Maarten Van Severen created noteworthy designs celebrated for their simplicity of form and perfection of detail. Wright highlights the oeuvre of Van Severen and his contributions to the field of design.
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A design is only finished once it surprises me. Then I’m convinced that it will work.

Maarten Van Severen

Auction Results Maarten van Severen

Maarten van Severen 1956–2005

Maarten Van Severen was a celebrated contemporary designer from Belgium. The son of abstract painter Dan Van Severen, his creative upbringing encouraged him to study architecture at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Ghent. After three years in school he began to design furniture in 1986 then the following year established his own studio. Van Severen devoted himself to perfecting the proportion, detail, and fabrication of basic furniture forms. He worked with materials that he loved including aluminum, plywood, steel, Bakelite, and leather to create simplified designs.

Van Severen enjoyed a successful career across a spectrum of industries and collaborations. His furniture designs were first exhibited in 1988 and continued to be shown around the world. In the latter half of the 1990s, he held teaching positions at institutions including the University College West Flanders in Kortrijk, the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht, and the Delft University of Technology among others. He also collaborated with fellow architect Rem Koolhaas on several residential projects in France as well as the new Seattle Public Library and Casa da Musica, Portugal.

Beginning in 1996 he produced designs with the furniture company Vitra until his death in 2005. Some of his most recognizable designs from this period include the .03 chair (1998), MVS Chaise Lounge (2000), and the .06 chair (2005). Van Severen also worked closely with the companies Kartell, Edra, Alessi, and Pastoe over the course of his career.

His work is included in the collections of the Vitra Design Museum in Denmark, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Ghent City Archive, the Flemish Architectural Archives, the Design Museum in Lisbon, Portugal, and the Department of Architecture & Urban Planning in the University of Ghent. He was honored with two retrospectives at the Design Museum in Ghent, Belgium. Maarten Van Severen’s life and accomplished career were cut short at just 48 years old.

Additional Resources

In 2008, The Maarten Van Severen Foundation was established to honor and preserve the designer’s legacy.

Maarten Van Severen by Lensvelt – A large producer of Van Severen’s collection, the Dutch company Lensvelt Contract Furniture celebrates the designer’s process.

Maarten Van Severen’s work transcends fleeting fashions. His oeuvre embodies powerful restraint, which deliberately distances itself from loud overproduction of exuberant forms that are made only to stand out.

Marc Dubois

To learn more about a work by Maarten Van Severen in your collection, contact our specialists.
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