Emerging from a lineage of artists, painters, artisans and craftspeople, Maarten Van Severen developed an intense curiosity for architecture, art and design early on. He longed to create for others a direct experience with material. He work intended to break down any barriers between the user and the product, so that design could be more than a commodity, it could be a felt experience.
To this aim, his oak table is finished using soap, and the one made of raw aluminum is waxed. This means that the oak will absorb stains that disappear when scrubbed and that the aluminum scratches and develops a patina through use. The idea of someone marking their own history onto his furniture was certainly a preoccupation of his life’s work. Therefore, although minimalist in form, his design is also honest, warm and inviting. This may be why Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman of Vitra, has described Van Severen as ‘not a minimalist, but an essentialist.’
Luminaire extols Van Severen’s practice of making design an experience unique to each user, and was thrilled to invite him to speak during the NeoCon World’s Trade Fair 2001. His insightful lecture was held at the Zolla/Lieberman Gallery in Chicago. Among the Van Severen admirers in attendance were Jeffrey Bernett, designer of B&B Italia’s Landscape chaise longue, Melissa Feldman from Metropolis, Karen Klages from the Chicago Tribune and Julie Lasky from Interiors.
Van Severen offered insight into his celebrated works, creations that have been added to the collections of many famous furniture manufacturers including Vitra, Edra and Bulo. A reception was held following the lecture that featured an exhibit of Maarten Van Severen’s work. Guests viewed his work first hand and saw his philosophy come to life in its pure, yet revolutionary, form.
Sadly, Maarten Van Severen passed away in 2005 at the young age of 48. The international design community mourned the loss of this brilliant, versatile designer to cancer. His bright curiosity and commitment to creating pure and minimal pieces will surely inspire many in the years to come.
Friday, June 1, 2001