Belgian design duo Muller Van Severen share their design insight during the September edition of MAISON&OBJET and Paris Design Week 2023.

Since Muller Van Severen’s inception more than a decade ago, their avant-garde style and experimental application of form and colour have seen the designers collaborate with a series of brands, designers and museums, including Hermès, Valerie ObjectsVitra Museum, Musée d’Art Decorative Paris, and most recently, Danish brand HAY.

As Designer(s) of the Year for the 2023 Spring/Summer edition of MAISON&OBJET, Muller Van Severen curated a stand-alone exhibition highlighting pieces and experiences from each year of their career, while presenting new commissions, including a series of vases for Bitossi, a rug for Kvadrat and a floor lamp developed for Valerie Objects.

We caught up with Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen at their exhibition to uncover the concept behind their unique stand and the importance of working with like-minded brands.

Stay tuned for est living’s on-the-ground reportage at Maison&Objet from Thursday, 18 January to Monday, 22 January 2024.

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The Wire S #1 chair | Photography by Martina Bjorn

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The ‘Arcs’ collection for HAY

Congratulations on winning designer(s) of the year. Could you talk about your stand and how it speaks to your body of work?

Hannes Van Severen: Thank you. We have designed an installation inspired by our home and studio near Ghent, Belgium. We live in a house with a studio and garden; it’s our little oasis where we can escape from the hustle and bustle. This is what we wanted to recreate here at the fair. We wanted to create a room away from the bustle of the fair, separated into three ‘islands’ that represent our house, our garden and our studio. On display are a series of objects that we consider a family of objects. Although the objects we are showing are separate and on separate ‘islands’, they become one family and one landscape when shown together.

Over the years, you’ve collaborated with several brands, designers and museums and released a book. What’s next?

Fien Muller: It’s a very busy year ahead, but unfortunately we can’t say much right now. We are currently exhibiting in Berlin at Andreas Murkudis with our good friend, artist Willem Cole. We are also working on several new objects, some for new brands and some for existing brands that we are already working with. We are really happy with the collaborations we’re currently working on. We are also going to make some objects for the London and Paris-based gallery Galerie Kreo shortly. A lot is going on; there’s a lot to think about!

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The ‘ONDA’ collection for Bitossi

Your highly conceptual approach has led to collaborations with legacy brands such as Hermes, Valerie Objects and HAY. Is it hard to ensure that you are cultivating a unique visual message for each?

Fien Muller: Yes and no. It can be difficult because you have to stand very close to yourself, but you have to also do something for a brand that has its own history and image. To use HAY as an example, it’s a great match because we are already working with the same ingredients. If you likened our collaboration to a recipe, the main ingredient would be colour. 

Hannes Van Severen: It’s a challenge also to design objects that have our DNA along with the DNA of the brand. It’s nice to see that our products are very HAY but also very Muller Van Severen. At the end of the day, we want to create something wild yet tame. We’re always striving to find that balance.

Why is MAISON&OBJET an essential platform for designers?

Fien Muller: It’s a very big, visual platform. It’s also very commercial and very business-to-business. For us, it’s completely new because we’re tapping into an audience we don’t know as well. It’s been so nice speaking with people who are selling our work or who are working with us. Being able to explain our process, what we’re doing and how we work has been a privilege.

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A sketch of Muller Van Severen’s Designer (s) of the Year stand at MAISON&OBJET Spring/Summer 2023.

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Designers Fien Muller and Hannes Van Severen | Photography by DSL Studio

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