Thanks to a project grant from the Vlaamse Agentschap Kunsten en Erfgoed (Flemish Agency for Arts and Heritage) the MVS Foundation was able to work for three years on the Maarten Van Severen archive inventory.
To start with, the archive contains project files, which include design drawings, sketches, photos and correspondence but also three-dimensional items, such as scale models, studies, prototypes, samples, etc. In addition to the project files there are also administrative and accounting documents from the bureau, files about exhibitions and publications, files about promotion, the library
, documentation and a limited number of personal items.
All that material, which was transferred at the end of 2008 from the designer’s studio to De Zwarte Doos, was firstly arranaged according to an archive inventory
, which gives a good idea of the archive structure. Each item has its place there, determined by its function at the time it was created.
Following that, everything was described according to the ISAD(G) international standard. From each file a number of characteristics were recorded, such as the title, size and dating. For project files the location and the other designers or producers who were involved in the project were also stated. When things like the name of a client or the dating of a project were unclear, the appropriate people were contacted as far as this was possible. Subsequently, the inventory was converted from an Excel file to a databank with the open source software Ica-Atom, so that the information becomes searchable and can be supplemented in the future.
The physical documents were repacked in acid-free folders and boxes. For the photos and slides special photo albums were purchased. Large-format archive drawings are from now on kept in poster folders and tubes. The scale models were cleaned and repacked by two Conservation and Restoration trainees. Some 5,000 faxes and the videos which Maarten Van Severen took in Japan in 1987 were digitalized. A skirt and bikini in salmon-coloured leather and the backrests of two F88’s were restored. For the sustainable preservation of the digital archive an action plan, under the guidance of Packed, was launched which is still running.
In addition to drawing up the inventory, the MVS Foundation was dedicated to documenting Maarten Van Severen’s work through interviews with key figures like Nick Top, Rolf Fehlbaum and Rem Koolhaas.
During this project the MVS Foundation was supported by six partners: De Zwarte Doos (the Ghent City Archive), the Centrum Vlaamse Architectuurarchieven (Centre for Flemish Architectural Archives) (under the umbrella of VAi – Flemish Architecture Institute) the Ghent Design Museum, the Ghent University Vakgroep Architectuur & Stedenbouw (Department for Architecture and Urban Development), The Conservation and Restoration training course by the Artesis High School Antwerp and the film production company Pain Perdu.