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Rens and his legacy

This November, Friday 11th, Caradt hosted a retirement party for Rens Holslag, manager at Caradt.

Rens’s contribution to Caradt was and is incredibly important; he has been a key figure since Caradt’s foundation. To understand the extent of his legacy, we have to go back in time 38 years.

Rens Holslag has been associated with St. Joost School of Arts & Design since 1984. Through the years, he has held various positions in the school: teacher, IT policy advisor, coordinator of the Visual Rhetoric research group. From 2007, he started working as project leader of the Expertise Centre for Art and Design (EKV), which later, in 2019, would be renamed Caradt (Centre of Applied Research for Art Design and Technology).

Rens has always shown generosity, plasticity and flexibility in his different roles. These key qualities of Rens’s character, his ability to share and apply his knowledge and care across various contexts, is also reflected in his collaborations. Prof. Dr. Elvin Karana, from the BAD research group, gave an apt description in her speech during our event for Rens, in November:

“(…) Rens the architect, who designed his charming house. Rens the life coach, who always thinks creatively about the problems we face in the everyday, and who always has a solution. Rens the career advisor, who knows and understands what people’s potentials are and where they should be and what they should do. Rens the matchmaker, who always knows who should work with who. (…)”

It is also important to mention that Rens graduated in Design, and followed the birth of the online information age, computers, and later the beginning of the internet. He worked and collaborated on projects together with people from other fields such as ergonomists, psychologists, and programmers. This resulted not only in a very rich curriculum vitae and network, but also in a person with great ability and knowledge to make moves to make things happen within the institutions.

As shared by Prof. Michel van Dartel, of the SAD research group, in his speech, stressing the pleasure Rens takes in “making things happen.”

“(…) You will never catch him breaking or even bending any rules, but Rens has the gift of seeing opportunity through the bureaucracy. When such opportunities arise, he transforms into a kind of ‘red-tape-ninja.’ His eyes light up and he will give you this quirky smile. And when the red-tape-ninja strikes, the bureaucrats never really know what hit them, (…)”

Weaving together these characteristics we can better understand his legacy.

“(…) It’s by no means an exaggeration to describe Rens as an ideal manager (…)” CCI research group Prof. Sebastian Olma elaborates: Rens has “the rare combination of someone who has the intellectual capability of understanding what the lector wants to achieve alongside the insight, ingenuity and managerial skills to help make that happen. Or, sometimes, to tell you that what you’re trying to do is nonsense. (…)”

And not only that. Indeed, how could someone be such a good leader if his personality, characteristics, and values were not also good.

“You are a good human being, with a beautiful heart and intelligence.” – Prof. Doctor Elvin Karana

“Rens is fair, strict, and loyal.” – Prof. Michel van Dartel

“Rens the enabler.” – Prof. Sebastian Olma

As for what the future holds for Caradt, nothing could be more appropriate than Rens’s own words:

I think it was a wise decision (by René Bosma) that my successor was brought in while I was still around. I have had the opportunity to work with Wouter Meys for almost three months and have 300% confidence in his ability to fill and outgrow my proverbial shoes. A lot has changed since last September. The Academy for Creative Innovation (ACI) became a reality, with art, design, cmd, business, and cabaret all under one roof. And Caradt became part of ACI.

I think Caradt can contribute a lot to the educational innovation that ACI aims to achieve and see that – through Wouter’s experience at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (…). I anticipate a future with more projects, more professors, more researchers, more students. How that all turns out is up to the professors and Wouter, and ultimately everyone involved in Caradt and the ACI.”

Rens Holslag, the main person of the evening and the last to speak, ended his speech by expressing his thanks:

“I thank everyone who came to this event, and also those who were not able to come but with whom I have enjoyed working over the past forty years. In particular, of course, the lecturers Elvin, Sebastian, and Michel and – probably even more particularly – the support staff Wilma and Joana, and all those who have been associated with our office over time; as professors, as researchers, or as collaborators.”

Switching now to a direct address to Rens:

We, the Caradt team, are to you, dear Rens, immensely grateful.

Thank you so much, again, for everything.


Photo credits: Unframed Visuals
Photo caption, from left to right:

  1. Rens Holslag
  2. Rens Holslag and Director René Bosma
  3. Prof. Sebastian Olma, Prof. Doctor Elvin Karana and Prof. Michel van Dartel
  4. Rens Holslag and guests
  5. Jules van de Vijver (director from 1998 to 2011), René Bosma (current), Rens Holslag, Jacques Peeters (director from 1976 until 1988) and Femke den Boer (director from 2011 to 2018)
  6. Rens Holslag, Prof. Sebastian Olma, Prof. Doctor Elvin Karana, Wouter Meys (current Caradt manager), Wilma Diepens (Caradt management assistant), Prof. Michel van Dartel
‘Caradt’s practice-led research aims to empower artists and designers to make a meaningful contribution to society through their projects.’

Rens Holslag is project coordinator at Caradt and will retire effective November 2022

Rens Holslag arrow

‘Without collaboration, impact is impossible. So… let's connect, and make a sustainable impact on society.’

Wouter is Manager at the Centre of Applied Research of Art, Design & Technology (Caradt).

Wouter Meys arrow

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