Take the free ferry from Central Station across the River IJ to Amsterdam-Noord (Amsterdam North) and a short walk, or bike, through the neighbourhood will lead you to Blom & Blom’s airy showroom. Among commercial garages and workshops, the design studio—which opened earlier this year in May—hosts a collection of beautiful reclaimed lighting fixtures.
Just two years old, the business began as a hobby when brothers Martijn and Kamiel Blom would wander through forgotten and abandoned factories, laboratories, and military complexes collecting furnishings of the former DDR (Deutsche Demokratische Republik) in East Germany. “My brother was living in Berlin, and when I was there we’d go exploring together,” says Martijn, the elder of the two. “[He] once found a lamp that he took home and restored and received a lot of positive reactions from friends.” Noting that they weren’t alone in wanting a fixture that wasn’t simply plucked from a catalogue, the duo had their light bulb moment. “We said, ‘okay, maybe we’ll just go for this and see where it leads,’” Martjin continues. So the brothers Blom, with their cumulative education and experience in architecture, business, international enterprise, and creative agency life, left it all behind to venture on their own. “It’s of course hard work but a very big part of it is doing the things that we used to do for fun.”
Each restoration takes a considerable amount of care and work. “We always say we restore and redesign so some items need more attention or need a bit of a twist, something extra to get it in good condition again,” Martjin explains. Because the brothers aim to keep the integrity and antiquity of each piece, a project could sit in their workshop for over a year before all of the right parts finally come together. For instance, they repurposed a piece of 50-year-old wooden piling from a canal in Amsterdam into a stand. It’s also worth noting that each completed unit, too, functions just fine. The inner wirings of these electric objects, as one would expect, are often in as rough shape as their exterior when found, but in addition to their professional backgrounds, both brothers have technical training, bringing their restorations full circuit. “The objects that come from these places, they represent their history. So, our philosophy is that on the outside it should be as authentic as possible but on the inside it’s completely modern.”
Each restored piece in the collection comes with a “passport” illuminating its path, origin, and legacy for its new owner. Even for those who may just wander into the showroom serendipitously, Blom & Blom’s investment in craft makes it possible to appreciate these recovered relics in a new light.