Vitra has manufactured furniture designs by Charles & Ray Eames and George Nelson since 1957. Building on this foundation, Vitra has developed a wide range of furnishings for the office, for the home and for public spaces in collaboration with progressive designers. Yet Vitra is more than just a design-oriented manufacturing company. The name also stands for the Vitra Design Museum, for a collection of modern furniture and its accompanying archive, for workshops and publications on topics of design, and for an architectural concept that unites buildings by Frank Gehry, Nicholas Grimshaw, Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando, Alvaro Siza, Herzog & de Meuron and SANAA at the Vitra Headquarters in Birsfelden (Switzerland) and on the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein (Germany).
Product longevity is central to Vitra's contribution to sustainable development; short-lived styling is avoided at all costs. This can be seen most clearly in the classical pieces of furniture that have been used for decades, had several owners and have then even ended up as a part of a collection. For Vitra, the manufacture of sustainable products means intense pre-production development, where the highest-grade materials are selected and tests are carried out that simulate 15 years of use. In order to enforce and monitor sustainable development in all business activities of the company, a work group was formed in 1986 by the name of 'Vitra and the Environment'. Because of this, Vitra can proudly claim that it has been dedicated to sustainability for nearly a quarter of a century.
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.View other products by Maarten van Severen