The son of an abstract painter, Maarten Van Severen studied architecture at Ghent art school; he completed three years before going to work in various agencies on interior design and furniture projects, and in 1986 began to make furniture.
Before succumbing to cancer at the young age of 48, Van Severen was frequently commissioned as a decorator and furniture designer for private residence projects, teamed with Rem Koolhaas. His work, hand produced in his workshop in Ghent Belgium, reflected his quest for perfection in form, detail and fabrication and utilized a variety of different materials, from aluminium and ply to bakelite and polyester.
His highly acclaimed works include the Vizo chaise lounge in which he was awarded the Henry Vandevelde award, his U-Line lighting, which earned him an IF-design award and the design of the entrance halls at both the Museum of Fine Arts and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent. His most recent projects include collaborative work with Rem Koolhaas and designs for Vitra, Bulo, Light and Kartell.
Parallel to his work in furniture design, Maarten Van Severen also dedicated himself to interior architecture projects. Especially prominent projects in this context include his work in the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK) in Ghent (1999) and the Van Abbeemuseum in the Netherlands (2003) as well as the projects realised with Rem Koolhaas/OMA. The latter most recently included the seating design for the concert hall in Porto, Portugal and furniture including a new shelving system for the Seattle Public Library (autumn 2004).
Maarten Van Severen's designs, although minimal, are multi-dimensional in approach and appeal. Each piece he created combines in-depth research and well thought-out proportions, resulting in an as yet, undefinable style that made him a master at his profession.
In June 2001, Luminaire was honored to welcome Maarten Van Severen as the guest speaker of an insightful lecture at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago. Van Severen offered insight into his celebrated works, detailing the sources of his inspiration. A reception was held following the lecture that featured an exhibit of Maarten Van Severen's work.