Alternative perspectives and humanist propositions define the intriguing world-building of the Milanese collective in their investigations of functionality, identity, and the mundane.
Muller Van Severen meets Robert Mallet-Stevens
The Belgian design duo discuss their new exhibition at Villa Cavrois
Until November 1st, the Belgian designer duo Muller Van Severen presents ‘Design!’, a new exhibition at the Villa Cavrois, which is part of Lille Metropole 2020, World Design Capital. The Villa was listed as a historical monument in 1990 and is considered to be one of Robert Mallet-Stevens’ most legendary work. “We wanted to integrate [the space] without falling away”, Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen told A Magazine, focusing on creating synergy with the spacious rooms of this Modernist masterpiece.
Designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens between 1929 and 1932 in Croix, just outside Lille in France, the Villa was conceived for the French industrialist and fabric mill owner Paul Cavrois. At the time, Croix was very popular with the middle class for its location: it was close to the industrial centers of Roubaix and Tourcoing, while still benefiting from the advantages of country living. With its 2,800 square-meter surface, big volumes, symmetrical wings and emphasis on space and comfort, this the Villa was quickly dubbed a ‘château,’ Another notable architectural work by Mallet-Stevens is the Villa Noailles in Hyères, home of the International Festival of Fashion, Photography and Fashion Accessories. The Villa Noailles was also the setting of ‘Nudes Curated By Julien Dossena’, A Magazine’s first Special Project.
Muller Van Severen share a love for materials with the architect, who also designed the Villa’s furniture and garden. The duo took inspiration from Mallet-Stevens’ unique use of color, proportions, even his sense of humor, to create the ‘Sofa Cavrois’, a brand new piece especially made for the exhibition. “It is our very first sofa. This is a first prototype, but this might be the beginning of a new series”, the duo explained, further recalling how the idea came to them when seeing the reflection of their ‘wire s#’ designs through one of the Villa’s window.
Next to their Sofa, Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen display a selection of archival and newer pieces, such as their ‘alltubes’ series which focuses on cabinets, benches and chairs made of repetitive vertical aluminum tubes. “You can look at each series as a new chapter, and the ‘alltubes’ is our last chapter so far”, they explained. In the 1930s, Mallet-Stevens chose to showcase industrial materials and techniques. Today, his teachings have most certainly informed Muller Van Severen’s main focus: to enhance the natural beauty of their preferred materials – polyethylene, brass, steel, enamel or leather – which always come as the starting point of their designs. “It’s almost as if Mallet-Stevens had built a portrait of himself”, they observed, reflecting on the Villa. Just like him, Muller Van Severen give away a sense of their essence through their objects.
The “Design! Muller Van Severen at the Villa Cavrois” exhibition is on view at Villa Cavrois until November 1st, 2020.
MULLER VAN SEVEREN was founded in 2011 by Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen. The couple, based in Evergem, Belgium, takes inspiration from art and architecture and develop furniture objects that show their deep appreciation of materials.
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