Sunday, January 8, 2012

Maarten Van Severen | LCP chair | Kartell, Italy | 2000

Maarten Van SeverenMaarten Van Severen
Kartell, Italy, 2000

Maarten Van Severen is an architect and furniture designer born June 5, 1956 in Antwerp, Belgium.  He studied architecture at the Sint-Lucas Art Academy in Ghent, Belgium.  He designed his first furniture pieces in 1986.  His approach was to reduce and refine his idea until only the most essential elements remained. Van Severen held teaching positions at 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.  Maarten van Severen died February 21, 2005 in Ghent, Belgium.  Maarten Van Severen is on Facebook here.

Maarten Van Severen Foundation logo

A story about Design Museum Gent and the archives associated with the Maarten Van Severen Foundation.  From YouTube.

In 2008, the Maarten Van Severen Foundation was founded by family and friends, in order to keep his work alive, as a source of inspiration for new generations of designers.

Some moments with Maarten Van Severen.  From YouTube.

The LCP, or “Low Chair Plastic,” is made from a single sheet of PMMA (acrylic) that folds back upon itself.  The LCP is a translation from the Low Chair, designed by Maarten Van Severen between 1993 and 1995 and made of a sheet of folded aluminum joined under the seat by rubber spacers.

Sketch for LC95A

Design sketch for “Stoel LC95A”  Image source.  Database Number 156, ca. 1995.

Low Chair

Low Chair.  Image source.

Viewed edge on, the chair virtually disappears.  This effect is magnified with the transparency of the LCP. Initially, Van Severen made his own furniture, but later in the 1990s he licensed production to the Belgian firm of Top Mouton who made about 40 of these chairs each year.  At the April, 2001 Milan Furniture Fair, Kartell previewed a prototype version in clear acrylic, ensuring a wider audience for the design.  The Low Chair is featured in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York here and the LCP here.

LCP chair

Neon yellow LCP chair viewed edge on.  Image source:  Kartell.

LCP Chair

LCP chairs.  Image source.

The LCP is given code 6040 by Kartell.  The chair is 19 1/8” wide by 25 1/4” high by 38 1/8” deep and has a seat height of 12”. It weighs in at about 40 pounds (18.8 kg).  The LCP is still in production and comes in four transparent “colors”:  crystal (transparent), clear azure (transparent sky blue), neon yellow, and neon orange.  Expect to pay around $2,175 for the privilege of owning a LCP chair unless you manage to find it on the secondary market.

I briefly considered buying this chair several years ago but ultimately decided against it.  Granted, the chair has a look that will grab a lot of attention.  Sitting in it is a treat, once you get into it.  It is a low lounger and I’m tall, so ease of use was an issue for me.  The acrylic also tends to scratch easily and the floor model showed considerable wear.  Don’t wear shorts when you’re doing your sitting as your legs will stick uncomfortably to the plastic.  If you have the right spot for it though, it is an incredibly impactful piece, especially in neon yellow.


Low chair.  Retrieved from http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O62433/chair-low-chair/?print=1

Maarten Van Severen.  Retrieved from http://www.vitra.com/en-no/home/designers/maarten-van-severen/

The Maarten Van Severen Foundation (2010). Voorlopige lijst projectdossiers Maarten Van Severen. (p. 30). Retrieved from http://www.maartenvanseveren.be/docs/projectdossiers.pdf

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