Young talent under the same roof as the old dog

Young talent under the same roof as the old dog

Young artists living together with experienced artists in the Ramses Shaffi House in Amsterdam. © Femke Boots

In the Ramses Shaffy House in Amsterdam, twelve young artists are living together with twenty-four successful elderly artists. After a strict selection, the new residents have moved into the house in the first week of September. What is it like for artists such as Francesco Rosati (25) and Jan Jansen (80) to live in the same building with completely different generations?

Jan Jansen is a well-known shoe designer in Europe, his designs are imitated worldwide. It was a relief for him to be allowed to move into the Ramses Shaffy House recently. He says: “I had been on a waiting list for years to get a place here. This place gives me peace.”

At the kitchen table he sketches one shoe after the other, even though he could retire, he’s still working a lot. Jansen says that he has not seen the young people much lately: “I feel like I’m in the prime of my life, I only retire when I can’t work anymore. And the fact that young people also live here is a nice addition. Even though I haven’t spoken to them that much, soon when it’s less busy it seems nice to get to know the young artists better.”

The Italian Francesco Rosati operates under the DJ name ‘Rosati’ and has moved into the Ramses Shaffy House at the same time as Jansen. It required a rigorous selection for young artists to get into the house that embraces art. For him, it is a unique experience to stay here for five years. “It gives opportunities to develop my creativeness, and chase my dreams”, according to Rosati.

For being Italian, he also sees cultural differences. Because the Netherlands is not the only country where young and old learn from each other. “In Italy, it is much more common that young people are living together, or near, the elderly”, says Rosati. This is increasingly happening in retirement homes where students can live for free to help the elderly according to BBC. But a combination with art seems quite unique.

In the common room, young and old come together to inspire each other. For example, there was a small concert in the room last week. In the left corner stands the piano of the famous folk singer Ramses Shaffy (1933-2009), whom the house is named after. Next to making art, the residents also simply come together in the room to chat. Jansen and Rosati are having a conversation in Italian while enjoying a cup of coffee. Rosati because he’s from Italy and Jansen because he learned Italian while working with a lot of with Italian shoe manufacturers.

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