For Rotterdam Art Week, we put a number of questions to captivating personalities active in the field of art, design & architecture in Rotterdam. This time, we direct our questions to Karin van Paassen, an energetic and passionate cultural entrepreneur who has committed herself for some decades to art and culture in the city. She develops exhibitions and educational projects, in which divergent disciplines such as design, fashion, art and architecture often blend seamlessly. Accessibility is always key. In addition, Karin is also active as a designer herself. During Rotterdam Art Week, she will be presenting Jewel.Rotterdam, which she coordinates from Stichting 10 tégen 1. No fewer than thirty Rotterdam students of the Ad Arts & Crafts jewellery design study of Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences will be presenting their collections.


When Rotterdam Art Week gave the green light for the project, I contacted more than thirty jewellery designers. Rotterdam has a good study programme for jewellery design and I was intent on highlighting it. Interestingly, many of the designers didn’t know one another yet, so this project has really yielded new contacts. We then started the joint development of the project. We meet every month and in this way a new network has effectively been created as well as a Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning that all participants feel they are co-owners of the project. This really is a joint effort and I am going to commit myself to the continued existence of that network.

During OBJECT, a special presentation, developed by the designers themselves, will be shown. In addition, we have produced a video with the young Rotterdam dancers of House of Urban Arts, which will be projected on the building of Van Lanschot Bankers. I really wanted to organise an event that is accessible to everybody. We also boast a number of enthusiastic ambassadors. For example, the staff of the restaurant in The Depot of the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum will be wearing jewellery made by Rotterdam designers all week long. And a D66 city council member will even be wearing various jewellery from local designers throughout the year. In collaboration with Galerie Phoebus, we have also organised a series of lectures for Rotterdam Art Week on jewellery for men. We have asked the participating designers to develop jewellery for men, although many of them indicated that their jewellery can actually be worn by anybody.

The interesting thing is that this is such a highly diverse group of designers and designs, ranging from precious stones to really quite rough and autonomous. It is also fascinating to see such a broad amalgam of styles and materials ranging from plastic to diamonds. I always think it is a pity when people consider art to be something elitist, whereas – quite to the contrary – it is meant for everyone. And it may even literally be quite close to the skin, which is the case for jewellery and fashion.

Kirsten Spuijbroek en Jelmer Noordeman  #
Kirsten Spuijbroek en Jelmer Noordeman #

Rotterdam is in her DNA

Rotterdam runs through my veins: it is absolutely my city and I have a particularly strong bond with it. That is a feeling but it is also quite strongly related to the fact that I myself have contributed to the development of art and culture in the city. To my mind, I have really pulled my weight. I have been active in the fashion, culture and jewellery industry since the late eighties, even though not very much was happening at that time. I have always made efforts to stimulate culture in a broad sense, to make it accessible for everybody throughout all city neighbourhoods. I also try to involve children. After all, culture is something you can cherish all your life.

And that is the nice thing about the city of Rotterdam: whenever you have good ideas, there will always be possibilities one way or another. The lines of communication are very short. There are open opportunities and I was given real opportunities to develop exhibitions and create projects. Foundations such as Droom en Daad invest effectively in the city and they have helped make Jewel.Rotterdam possible. Then again, Rotterdam residents themselves also fight for their city. For example, there are a range of art patrons who raise funds to ensure that certain city districts can retain their unique character. Developments in the city are taking place at a tremendous pace. Even after a short absence, I always notice that things have changed. Not always for the better, mind you, but quite fascinating all the same.

I am also a participant of the Art & Culture theme group for D66, providing advice to city council members. After all, we know much better what is going on in society. Mind you, I myself don’t aspire to a political career, but then again it is gratifying to be able to support politicians in this way.

Rotterdam Art Week highlights

During Rotterdam Art Week, I will of course be attending Jewel.Rotterdam intensively. I have therefore set up a smart schedule for myself to ensure that I will mainly see those exhibitions and events that can only be visited during that week, especially within the dynamic area at walking distance from OBJECT. But, I will be visiting Art Rotterdam no matter what. It provides a good impression of really topical events in today’s art world. And I will definitely go and have a look in Huidenclub. After that, I will explore the events that can be attended for a longer period of time, such as Brutus. I am already eagerly looking forward to it!

Karin van Paassen
Karin van Paassen
My selection