Milan 2014: furniture by the late Flemish designer Maarten van Severen was presented against the backdrop of a tromp l'oeil installation developed by Dutch studio OMA at Milan design week earlier this month (+ slideshow).
The First Series presented by Dutch furniture manufacturer Lensvelt comprises pieces designed by Van Severen between 1986, when he founded his studio in the Belgian city of Ghent, and his death in 2005.
The collection features basic furniture archetypes redesigned using surprising or inventive combinations of materials including saddle leather, wood and aluminium.
It was originally launched at Lensvelt's showroom in Amsterdam last September, where OMA's custom-designed environment was also first installed before being recreated at Ventura Lambrate in Milan.
The scenography combined photography and illustrations with trompe l'oeil imagery, aimed at recreating the sense of being inside Van Severen's former studio.
The designer was a friend and collaborator of OMA founder Rem Koolhaas and the pair worked together on projects including the Maison a Bordeaux and Villa dall'Ava in France. Koolhaas has said that working with Van Severen marked "a sort of important moment in my own professional life."
"I knew I could rely on Maarten," Koolhaas added. "He could create something that on one hand was extremely plain – but also highly imaginative. Maybe that was Maarten's intrinsic talent."
The furniture series includes a low chair formed from a single sheet of bent aluminium and an armchair with its arms and backrest made from a curving piece of rigid leather.
A simple table, chair and cabinet are constructed from high grade aluminium, while the chaise longue combines a moulded polyester seat with an aluminium frame.
The low table is made from solid oak on castors and features different openings that enable objects stored inside to be accessed from any side.
Van Severen was also a personal friend of Lensvelt's owner Hans Lensvelt. "What makes Maarten’s collection so special is his use of materials for specific applications that no one had thought of before," said Lensvelt.
"And not just one material. It could be bakelite or saddle leather or another type of leather – or aluminium or wood or steel. Whatever it was, he always managed to get out of a material all that was conceivably possible."
"I've included the collection in our product line because I think the aesthetic quality of these designs is incredibly good," Lensvelt added. "I think they're beautiful, and my personal definition of 'beautiful' is 'in proportion'. Everything in the collection is precisely proportioned."
Lensvelt previously collaborated with Maarten van Severen and OMA on projects including the Seattle Central Library and the Dutch Embassy in Berlin, and took over production of the designer's furniture last year.
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