Aric Chen appointed artistic director of Het Nieuwe Instituut

8 April 2021

Aric Chen has been announced as the new artistic and general director of Het Nieuwe Instituut, a Rotterdam-based institute of architecture, design and digital culture.

Chen will take up the role remotely from 1 May for one day a week, before relocating to Rotterdam on 1 September and working full-time. He succeeds Guus Beumer, who will retire in May.

Het Nieuwe Instituut was founded in 2013 through the merger of three organisations— the Netherlands Architecture Institute, Premsela and Virtueel Platform. The institute manages the National Collection for Dutch Architecture and Urban Planning.

“Het Nieuwe Instituut is a young institution with a long history – one that I’ve greatly admired over the years,” said Chen. “It’s an enormous privilege to have this chance to build on the ground-breaking, pioneering work that the institute and its staff have done, and to draw on the many well-known strengths of the Dutch cultural and creative communities and their extensive international links in tackling critical questions about our pasts, presents and futures.”

Chen is a respected writer and curator, having served as the first creative director of Beijing Design Week (2011-2012) before joining M+ as its first lead curator for design and architecture, and later curator at large (2012-2019). Ahead of M+'s planned opening later this year, Chen oversaw the creation of the museum's design and architecture team, programme and permanent collection.

At present, Chen is the founding director of the curatorial lab at the College of Design & Innovation at Tongji University in Shanghai, and curatorial director of Design Miami. He will complete his role with Design Miami in November 2021, while his work at Tongji University will carry through into spring 2022.

Chen will be replaced at Design Miami by Wava Carpenter, the co-founder of Anava Projects who has previously directed programming, design and commissions for the fair from 2006 to 2010.

Speaking about Chen's appointment, Josien Paulides, managing director of Het Nieuwe Instituut, said: “Since its establishment in 2013 and thanks to the leadership of Guus Beumer, Het Nieuwe Instituut has built a solid foundation and developed an innovative interdisciplinary working way. Earlier this year, it was rewarded with the status of a national heritage institution, with a positively received policy plan. This plan provides the framework for interweaving the institute's working method and continuing to develop a socially critical program based on knowledge about the national collection for architecture and urban planning. With this strong footing, we look forward to the exciting new directions ahead of us with Aric Chen.”