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Design Academy Eindhoven congratulates Jan Boelen, Head of the Social Design master department, with his appointment as director of Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design (HfG). After decades of dedicated work at DAE, Boelen will take up his new position at the end of 2019. He will, however, remain department head until the start of next year, ensuring a smooth handover to the incoming head. He will also help prepare the curriculum for 2019-2020.

Born in 1967 in Belgium, Jan Boelen trained as a product designer at the Katholieke Hogeschool Limburg in Genk, where he later returned as lecturer. He has worked as director, product manager and project manager for several design firms. In 2001 he was appointed artistic director of Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt. He has also been artistic director since 2016 of Atelier LUMA, an experimental laboratory for design in Arles, France, and in 2018 he was curator of the 4th Istanbul Design Biennial. From 2001 to 2010 he was a lecturer within the Man and Well-Being department at Design Academy Eindhoven, and since 2010 he has been Head of the Social Design master department at the academy.

Boelen has shaped the department through his conviction that students need to question the implications of societal objects and systems and adopt a position towards them. The curriculum developed by him teaches students how to do so arguing their point of view using colour, form, material and language. Boelen has strongly advocated the role of the ‘ignorant schoolmaster’ explaining that: ‘It is not our telling the students what they should do; they have to persuade their tutors how, with whom, and for which situation or audience their works are intended’. Boelen’s greatest wish is to have ‘dared and perhaps provoked students over the past ten years to question and redesign frameworks that society imposes on them. Because only then can they truly change something.’

Published: 17-May-2019 11:05


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  • Jan Boelen appointed director of HfG Karlsruhe

    Jan Boelen. Photography by Veerle Frissen