Jan Boelen appointed rector at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design

In the autumn of 2019, artistic director Jan Boelen will leave Z33, the House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt. He will take up a new post as rector at the Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG Karlsruhe).

Petra Olschowski, Secretary of State in the Baden-Württemberg Ministry of Science, Research and Art announced the name of the new rector of the HfG Karlsruhe. Jan Boelen, artistic director of Z33, will take up the position this autumn, following in the footsteps of philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, among others. With his extensive international experience in the design and art world, he will give an important impulse to the university’s further development. The move from Z33 to Karlsruhe is a logical next step in Jan Boelen’s professional career. In the same spirit as A School of Schools, the theme of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennale, HfG champions the critical values of Bauhaus. Questioning and challenging society are an integral part of its DNA, as is true of Z33. In his position as rector, Boelen will also foster and enhance the close cooperation with the ZKM (Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe).

Jan Boelen, artistic director of Z33: “Design and art have always been means for Z33 to reflect on socially relevant themes. Over the past few years, this vision has led us to develop an impressive trajectory. And that will not change in the future. Along with the team, I will spend the coming months continuing to prepare for the opening of the new exhibition building and the programme for 2020. The foundations for a new Z33 have been laid, and together we will inaugurate this new chapter. I would like to thank the province of Limburg, our board, my colleagues at Z33 and all the partners for the collaborations in the last years.”

Art can change the world. This is the motto with which Jan Boelen has shaped Z33 in Hasselt for the past eighteen years. Under his leadership, the former Provincial Centre for Visual Art has developed into a dynamic centre for contemporary art. Z33 has become a space for experimentation and talent development, at the crossroads of design, contemporary art and architecture. He has explored the horizons of the artistic field and put social and critical design on the international agenda. Over the past few years, he has been one of the major driving forces of the project to build a new exhibition space for Z33. Under his artistic leadership, collaborations have been launched with Raf Simons, Dunne & Raby, Aldo Bakker, Tomas Saraceno, and many others. Partly under his impulse international art events such as Manifesta 9 and the Istanbul Design Biennale came to Limburg.

Jan Bloemen, business manager of Z33: “On behalf of the whole team and the board of directors, we warmly congratulate Jan with his appointment. Under his leadership, Z33 has become a leading arts institution in Limburg, Flanders, and further afield. With the opening of the Z33’s new building this autumn, we will literally be closing a chapter together. We thank him for his years of commitment and dedication to Z33.”


Jan Boelen studied product design in Limburg, Belgium. Since 2001 he has served, among other capacities, as artistic director of the Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium and since 2010 as head of the Master Department Social Design at the Design Academy in Eindhoven, Netherlands. He has been the artistic director of Atelier LUMA, Arles, France since 2016. In 2017, he curated the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial with the programmatic title “Design as Learning: A School of Schools”. Boelen is a member of various boards and committees, among them the advisory council of the V&A Museum of Design Dundee and the Creative Industries Fund in the Netherlands. He has been teaching at Dutch and Belgian art academies for many years and advises the CEOs and executive boards of Philips Light and Vitra in the area of innovation and possible strategies for the future.

Boelen reformed the Provincial Center for Visual Arts, now known as the Z33 House for Contemporary Art, turning it into a contemporary laboratory allowing new ways of looking at everyday objects. The Z33 is a hub for experimentation and innovation that introduces new exhibition formats for contemporary art and contemporary design in combination with architecture, fashion or the media. Boelen’s curatorial activities at the Z33 have encompassed collaborations with Raf Simons, Dunne & Raby, Aldo Bakker and many others.