Simple and clean are the two words that come through my mind when I discovered the furniture collection of Dutch photographer Fien Muller and artist Hannes Van Severen. The two creatives created Mueller Van Severen and their furniture collections are build from need and function – Simple tubes become light sculptures, minimal lines become tables or shelves. A direct reflection on the splendor of art deco and the directness of modernism…
Fien Muller (photographer) and Hannes Van Severen (artist) launch a furniture collection. Clear-cut storage boxes, tables, racks and lamps that refer to – in their pure form – the work of Donald Judd and Bauhaus, but embrace the lush adornment in their completion and combination. While both artists are inspired by the tension between the known and the unknown they create furniture out of sheer necessity and function.
“Whereas design mostly finds its origin in plasticity and form, we consider material to be the source from which a piece of furniture grows. We have made a selection of different colored marble stones that we will combine with brass and colored polyethylene cutting boards. The colors – but also the patterns in the marble stone – give the furniture movement, some kind of gracefulness. This makes every piece of furniture unique.”
The combination of the materials, and a minimal line game in the collection refers to the splendor of art deco and the directness of modernism. This contradiction proves to be harmonious.
“As to form or proportion we do not add anything; the rich marble or the vibrant colors of the synthetic material create a contrast with the tight form. The image of minimalism is worn out. This furniture battles with minimalism and uses it at the same time. Details have been left out, everything has been reduced to the most simple technological solution and still the result is very rich in ornamentation.”
The pieces of furniture are to be seen as a landscape and share a close connection with the work of both sculptors.
“We are not looking for the next ‘big find’. The furniture exists because of a logical necessity. A table with a table-leg turning into a cantilever lamp, an open cabinet where one of the shelves becomes a table, or a series of lamps that are no more than a socket, a cover and a cord. The surprise comes from the combination of colors, materials, functions and – especially – the commonness. We boldly choose for open racks by which the daily life – by means of a personal collection of dishes – can be told. We make lamps with the cord as the centre of attention, and tables where the tabletop is a cutting board.”
By limiting the material the pieces furniture are to be seen as small islands in a bigger picture. They tell a logical story, just like the cabinet collection of Hannes Van Severen or the photographed finds of Fien Muller, as if they were connected by an invisible hand. Although both artists consider these designs not to be part of their work, there is a clear connection. Just like Ariadne’s thread the furniture ensemble does not only lead us to their individual work, but also shows the plastic symbiosis that the artists have been developing throughout their discourse by sharing table and bed in their daily life. Text by Hilde Bouchez
Published April 15, 2012