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Alberto Campo Baeza’s Favorite Thing: The Lounge Chair by Maarten Van Severen

When asked about my favorite piece, I always reply that the Lounge Chair by Maarten Van Severen is my favorite piece for a thousand reasons.

Moreover, this piece faithfully complies with the Vitruvian precepts of Utilitas, Firmitas and Venustas.

Utilitas: It perfectly fulfills the function of reclining calmly. It is amazingly comfortable compared to chaise longues created by so many other designers and architects. Much more comfortable than those of Le Corbusier or Alvar Aalto.

Its Fowler position, with its three changing possibilities, makes it amazingly comfortable.

Firmitas: It is created with a diabolically perfect technique. It is an exterior chaise longue which presides over my terrace as a unique piece alongside a lemon-tree and an olive tree.

Manufactured in stainless steel and a mysterious black material, it is as pristine as the day it was made. It resists all movements of my body, unchanged.

Venustas: It is a piece of extraordinary beauty and great elegance in terms of shape, materials, and color. There is no doubt that its beauty emanates from truth, from the sheer authenticity of the piece.

Value: It is worth more than it costs. I was lucky enough to have received it as a gift from one of my best friends who is a great architect, Pablo Fernandez Lorenzo, which makes it even much more valuable to me. 

Anatomy: It is not an ornament. It is absolutely unembellished.  Adolph Loos would like it. Perhaps the best word to describe this chaise longue is anatomical.

It captures what is known in anatomy as the Fowler position. It is as perfect, as beautiful and as well-proportioned as the human body for which it is made.

Essential: It is the best piece of all Maarten Van Severen designs. I imagine that he must have spent a long time, indeed years, finishing it. Virgil spent eleven years writing the Aeneid.

This piece has sometimes been included with minimalist furniture. No, never, for this piece is essential, just like poetry, which with very few, well-placed words, is capable of stirring our hearts.

Timeless: The Spanish philosopher Ortega, disciple of Heidegger, in his text “Meditation on Technique” distinguishes between technical instruments such as a knife, which becomes worn through usage, and artistic objects like a musical score that never wears away.

Van Severen’s piece serves a dual purpose in that it is technically perfect; it does not wear away and is artistically perfect, eternal.

Icon: This piece is an icon. It is the piece that I would have liked to design. That is the reason why it is my favorite piece. It is how I should like my architecture to be: precise, advanced, capable of lasting in time and in the memory of mankind.

Written by Carolyn Buszynski

Carolyn is a McGill University graduate currently living and working in Toronto.