Born in Antwerp, Belgium, Maarten Van Severen studied architecture at the Sint-Lucas Art Academy in Ghent, Belgium. He designed his first furniture pieces in 1986 and in the following year established an independent workshop, where he pursued the limited, semi-industrial production of his own furniture designs.
This unified process of design and production was a fundamental aspect of his work over a long period of time, in which he devoted himself to the examination of basic furniture types: chair, table, chaise lounge, shelving, and cabinet. He developed primary solutions for these categories based on a comprehensive exploration of the questions of form, material, and construction.
Beginning in 1990, Maarten Van Severen began to collaborate closely with Rem Koolhaas and also turned his attention to interior design tasks. During this period he also assumed teaching positions at a variety of institutions, including University College West Flanders in Kortrijk (1996), the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht (1996-97), Delft University of Technology (1998), and universities in Helsinki and Barcelona.