.03 Chair by Maarten van Severen, Designmatcher and Chair Blog

Maarten Van Sevener dot03 Chair

Maybe you didn’t realize (like I did’t realize for quite some time) that the banner of this Blog consists of a row of .03 Chairs by Maarten van Severen for Vitra.
Maarten van Severen
About Maarten Van Severen

Maarten Van Severen (Antwerp, Belgium 1956 – 2005) lived and worked in Ghent, where he designed and produced items in small lots in his laboratory. Notable among his numerous interior design projects are the entrance to the Museum of Modern Art in Ghent and the Saint-Honoré Palace in Paris, which houses the services of the Ministry of Culture. He collaborated with the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas in the making of the interiors of a Parisian villa and a house in Floriac. In 1998 he designed a chair for Vitra. He has taken part in many exhibitions, including the one on Minimalism and “Made in Belgium” that was held at the Kortrijk Biennial Exhibition in 1994. In 1996 he was invited to the VIA in Paris and the Milan Triennial Exhibition.

The son of an abstract painter, Maarten Van Severen chose to study architecture at Ghent art school; he completed three years before going to work in various agencies on interior design and furniture projects, then in 1986 started to make furniture. The first piece, a long and slender steel table, has since been recreated as an aluminum model, which has been further refined over the years. In 1989 he produced his first wooden table; long, slim and pure in form. In 1990 he turned his attention to chairs. His work, hand crafted in his workshop in Ghent Belgium, reflects his quest for perfection in form, detail and fabrication. He also created imposing exhibition stands of steel shelving for use at exhibitions and fairs. Since 1997 he is involved in industrial productions for Target Lighting (U-Line lamp), Obumex (kitchen), Vitra (chair no .03), Edra (Blue Bench) and BULO (Schraag).

In recent years a small group of fans has emerged, all prepared to accept the long waiting times necessary if you want to acquire furniture manufactured in Van Severen’s own workshop. None of this furniture is designed for industrial production.

.03 is the first result of co-operation between Belgian minimalist Maarten Van Severen and Vitra – and it will be also mass produced.

About the .03

Officially called the .03, is the industrial interpretation of his traditional seat in aluminum of 1992. The .03 chair was first conceived as a chair for both domestic living areas as well as public spaces where visual restraint is of prime importance, such as museums. Discussion with architects, dealers and other users, however, revealed many other additional uses. The .03 can be stacked inconspicuously and quite naturally in an office, ready for an improvised meeting, and many architects now see the .03 as a comfortable alternative to the classics for use in cafes, halls or waiting areas.

Maarten Van Severen has always produced creations of exemplary purity and clarity, and in partnership with a manufacturer for the first time, he was able to combine this style with a multitude of factors, including ergonomics, safety, and the heavy demands of the public. The moment you sit down in a .03, you realise the technical refinement. The rigidly designed shell ‘gives’ comfortably in the seat and back areas, and moulds the contours of the body. When you lean backwards, the top part of the back section yields to match your body, and the built-in spring mechanism provides counter-pressure, allowing the backrest to return to the original position. With its apparently simple design and styling, this chair is the epitome of the “less is more” concept. The .03 is available either with armrests or as a stacking chair. The stacking chair takes up little space, as the shells fit closely on top of one another and there is no need for dividing buffers.

.03 is an ideal chair for all areas calling for comfortable seating even over prolonged periods – for example, lecture theatres and seminar rooms. The stackable chair can be linked. Because each shell lies direct on the one below it, the stacks are very compact. When you lean back, the shape of the upper section of the backrest changes thanks to the built-in springs.

Polyurethane and steel are the materials and work together as a whole by means of an ingenious construction.

W 38 — D 52— SH 45.5 cm.

Both extensive quotes are from Design Matcher a real inspiration if you like chairs like I do.

Last edited by gje on March 22, 2010 at 1:16 PM

Slow Chair by Bouroullec Bros for Vitra

Via Gallery : Slow Chair : At Home : Vitra.com

What have Balancing Tools to do with Chairs?

Balancing Tools

What have balancing tools to do with chairs?

Balancing Tools

Balancing Tools is a large scale object of art by

Claes Oldenburg (Klahss Old-en-burg) bio:
Claes Oldenburg was born January 28, 1929, in Stockholm, Sweden, but spent most of his childhood in the United States. After studies at Yale University and the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to New York City in 1956, where he established himself in the early 1960s with a series of installations and performances influenced by his surroundings on the Lower East Side.
Oldenburg’s initial interest in constructing environments such as The Street (1960), The Store (1961), and Bedroom Ensemble (1963) soon evolved into a concentration on single sculptures. Using ordinary, everyday objects as his form of expression, he went on to develop “soft” sculpture and fantastic proposals for civic monuments. In 1969, Oldenburg took up fabrication on a large scale with Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, which became a controversial focus for student protest when it was installed on the Yale campus, followed in 1976 by Clothespin for downtown Philadelphia. Since 1976 he has worked in partnership with Coosje van Bruggen. Together they have executed over forty Large-Scale Projects, which have been inserted into various urban surroundings in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Their most recent work is the 144-foot-long, 64-foot-high Cupid’s Span for Rincon Park on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.

Coosje van Bruggen (Koh-shuh vahn Bruh-guhn) bio:
Born in Groningen, the Netherlands, on June 6, 1942, Coosje van Bruggen received a master’s degree in art history from the University of Groningen. From 1967 to 1971 she worked in the curatorial department of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and was co-editor of the catalogue of Sonsbeek 71, an exhibition of contemporary sculpture held in Park Sonsbeek, Arnhem, and other sites throughout the Netherlands. Van Bruggen was a member of the selection committee for Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany (1982); a contributor to Artforum (1983-88); and Senior Critic in the Department of Sculpture at Yale University School of Art (1996-97). She has also authored books on Claes Oldenburg’s early work and on John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Bruce Nauman, and the architect Frank O. Gehry, among others. Van Bruggen’s first collaboration with Claes Oldenburg was in 1976, when Trowel I, originally shown at Sonsbeek 71, was rebuilt and relocated in the sculpture garden of the Kröller-Müller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. In 1978 van Bruggen moved to New York, where she continued to work with Oldenburg to establish direct contact with a wider audience by creating large-scale, site-specific works in urban settings. Their collaboration has extended to smaller-scale park and garden sculptures as well as to indoor installations.

and chairs?

Balancing Tools was commissioned by German chair manufacturer Vitra International AG. On the photo you see the sculpture against a background of the Vitra Design museum by Canadian Architect Frank Gehry. Vitra itself explains it as follows:

Following a major fire which destroyed a large part of the factory in the 80ies, British architect Nicholas Grimshaw was commissioned to build a new factory hall. His high-tech architecture was considered to be in keeping with the vision of Vitra as an enterprise synonymous with technical excellence. After completing the building, Grimshaw was commissioned to develop a masterplan for the entire site.

This idea of a “Corporate Identity Architecture” was, however, called into question by the “Balancing Tools” sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.

“Balancing Tools” triggered off an entirely new architectural concept: Vitra decided to have the buildings on its site on a range of contrasting styles. It commissioned new buildings from different architects, each responsible for a specific need. Vitra’s architectural philosophy is aimed at countering the desolate dreariness associated with traditional trading estates.

I hope the answer is clear:
Two artists / designers (one of whom is a Dutch Lady) make a venerable Chair Manufacturer rethink his policy regarding who to commission as architects for the design of the buildings on its site.
This story makes it clear how much influence design can have.
Finally i would like to add that Het Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Museum) has a large collection of designer chairs. It even published a book about its collection. So Coosje will know of that collection although her area of interest seems more focused on sculpture.