The Leuven Hundreds

Portraits of a city's people, today

We’ve joined forces with Leuven to highlight 100 local people, places and projects that contribute towards making the city what it is today. From artists and architects to producers and professors, these are the driving forces powering Leuven forward one ingenious initiative at a time.

Robin Ibens

Robin Ibens

Founder and storyteller, Shaved Monkey (1975)

Can you describe what you do?

I’m the founder and inspector of Shaved Monkey – formerly known as De Geschoren Aap –, a storytelling agency with a visionary, co-creative and producer’s soul. We tell stories and create experiences which help our customers evolve towards a more healthy and happy, free and connected, sustainable and liveable future. With our fire, we create the energy to bring your message alive, and resonate through the world.

We’re based in a small community in Heverlee, a few hundred metres outside of Leuven’s ring-road. I don’t really live by a routine – I try to live on flowing energy instead, even if my schedule is determined by my family, my main priority in life, and many meetings. One day will never resemble the other, and I love that. I’m always on the look-out for adventure and thoroughly enjoy living by an unpredictable rhythm.

I have the pleasure of working with some talented and good-hearted people. Because of my rather sensitive nature, I find it imperative to carefully choose the people I surround myself with: emotionally open and creative people. They’re the ones who provide me with energy and drive. I love to bring people and expertise together to create new things.

How do you perceive Leuven?

In my eyes, Leuven is a potential example for the future of other cities. Its intelligence and wealth result in the responsibility to exemplify and act upon on modern citizenship. It’s the perfect scenario to experiment with the future – even if it does sometimes “miss the ball”, and acts too goody-goody.

Its brains and potential to constantly develop and re-invent itself – in other words, its resilience.

What would you say is Leuven’s main appeal as a city?

Its brains and potential to constantly develop and re-invent itself – in other words, its resilience.

How has Leuven contributed to making you who you are today? What role has the city played in shaping your outlook and career?

I attended the University here, and felt – for the first time ever in my life – the real power of possibilities. Here is where I first kissed my future wife and mother of my children – and understood the power of love. I founded my company on these very same vibes, and surfed on the power of trust in life. To me, Leuven is the please where I keep on growing (up) in all manners possible.

On a personal level, what would you like to see more of in the city? What could it do better?

More vision. More power. More courage.

More guts. More balls. More edge.

If you had to take out-of-towners to one place that truly symbolises the city, what would it be?

The University’s Central Library. Sit there for a few hours, and soak in the decades of good thinking in the air.