Belgian design: Seeing through the object


Paul Morris looks at a Belgian design team that believes in transparency.

A novel world of landscapes and sculptures
Recently, the design duo Muller Van Severen were invited to create furniture and lighting for a Spanish holiday home. The project inspired a series of sculptures and installations that will be presented at Valerie Traan gallery from 9 June.

Solo Houses are a series of architectural holiday houses in a Spanish estate near Barcelona. The first structure, by Chilean architect firm Pezo von Ellrichshausen, was completed in 2015. Last summer, the project’s owner hosted Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen. He commissioned the duo to design furniture for the house built by OFFICE Kersten Geers David Van Severen at the same estate. The building will be ready in the fall of 2016.

“It’s an incredible place entirely surrounded by nature,” say Hannes Van Severen and Fien Muller. “There’s a courtyard and a swimming pond we designed a couple of lying objects for. They look like a curled up mattress or a sheet of paper, waiting for someone to lie down. We wanted to accentuate the openness of the place. The rocking daybed isn’t manufactured in heavy materials like concrete or wood, but in metal netting. You can see through the object, but still grasp the architecture. Transparency makes the objects present and absent at the same time. They don’t impose themselves on you, while they continue to be sculptural. At Valerie Traan’s Antwerp expo, we’re presenting our quest for furniture and sculptures with similar materiality. It’s interesting to show this research phase in all its nakedness and fragility.”

BELGIAN DESIGN “The discovery of the new material (netting with 2×2 cm squares) inspired us to establish a novel world of landscapes and sculptures that also holds a place for colour. We love the idea that the user can dress up our furniture with plaids, blankets or a sheepskin…”

“As always, the creation process involves hefty hands-on experiments. It’s a great moment to show the studies at Valerie Traan.”

Solo Office KGDVS House
Renowned Belgian architectural firm ‘Office KGDVS’ by Kersten Geers and David Van Severen designed the second Spanish house. Their self-sustaining home integrates the living spaces in a wide circle. There’s a swimming pond in the circular courtyard. The house is constructed as a circular gallery with succeeding living areas.

“Our villa is, just like Fien and Hannes’ furniture, highly transparent. It allows for an immediate contact with the surrounding nature.”

Muller Van Severen
Artists Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen have also designed a complete furniture family for Gallery Valerie Traan: chairs, tables, office furniture, lighting, armchairs and objects for interior and exterior use. Part of this collection is available under the new design label valerie_objects. Their creations are globally identified in both private homes and public spaces.

BELGIAN DESIGN Currently, the Belgian design team Muller Van Severen is working on a new building for the public broadcasting company VRT, in collaboration with architects Robbrecht and Daem. They have shows at prestigious galleries (Kreo Paris), and they will present a series of new objects at Petit h, Paris.

Valerie Traan gallery
Valerie Traan is a place for objects and subjects, for things and themes, for the functional with a subjective view. Often balancing on the thin line between design, art and architecture.

Practical Info

Muller Van Severen
Studies for the Office KGDVS Solo House
June 9 – 25
Valerie Traan gallery
Reyndersstraat 12
2000 Antwerp | Belgium