Blom & Blom revives forgotten German factory lamps

Blom & Blom revives forgotten German factory lamps

May 16, 2013 |  by  |  Art, Spots
About the author
Meet Kim, a 27 year old epicurean pur sang. She likes cats, loves day dreaming and adores red wine. Her quest in life is to constantly look for Amsterdam's hidden gems and become a walking encyclopedia of Amsterdam's best spots.

A while ago I was invited by the Blom brothers Kamiel and Martijn to have a look at their workplace in Ilpendam, just outside Amsterdam. Together they started the inspiring and successful Blom & Blom. In the rustic barn of their family home, they’re working passionately on refurbishing forgotten artefacts. Does this sound boring to you? Well, it’s not! The Bloms aren’t restoring some old junk from their grandmother’s attic. No, we’re talking about artefacts found in abandoned factories in Eastern Germany, all telling a unique story.

What does Blom & Blom do exactly?
Martijn: “We collect and restore old lamps and furniture from factories in the former GDR and give them a new life. Every lamp we sell comes with its own passport, a little book with lots of pictures and information about where it has hung and the conditions in which we found the lamp. We also give a lot of information about the factory and the design. A lot of lamps have special features, some of them have a mark for example that tells you they´re explosion-resistant. That explains why the glass is extra thick and why there’s a cage around it, and tells you something about the age of the lamp too. We find it very important to tell this story about every lamp.”

How did it all start?
Martijn: “It all started as a hobby, we first talked about this two years ago. Kamiel was living in Berlin, where he had set up a successful media agency with three friends. There were plans for a new company, Gidsy.”
Kamiel: “Gidsy is a super-cool company, but I didn’t want the office life anymore. I wanted to get back to working with my hands instead of sitting behind a desk all day. In Berlin I became interested in the many old buildings the city has. One day I went in to make some picture, and discovered the many beautiful things that still hang there, neglected since the fall of the Berlin Wall. I took one of those old factory lamps with me and restored it. I got a lot of compliments and requests from friends, who also wanted a lamp like mine. So that’s when Martijn and me started to brainstorm about how we could arrange that.”
Martijn: “I just finished my study and was working four days a week. It sounded as a fun challenge to help Kamiel set up this company but during the process I got hooked, and we decided to really go for it. The main aim is to tell the stories behind the lamps, because that’s what makes the lamps even more special. Every lamp has its own story to tell, that’s what triggered us in doing this.
Kamiel: It takes some time to figure out the whole story, but that’s time we just love to spend.”

Blom & Blom Factory

I’m amazed by the passion and enthusiasm when you guys talk about what you’re doing!
Kamiel: “It’s genuine passion! When there’s a new lamp in front of me and I haven’t opened it, it’s like I’m opening my birthday gift when I do open it. Sometimes I’m restoring a lot of the same lamps one after another. At such moments I make some time available to open a brand new lamp. Those are moments I really enjoy. I’m amazed by everything I discover about a new lamp while polishing it and finding out where all the marks stands for.”

Blom & Blom

The project started in Berlin, but now you have your workplace just outside Amsterdam. How do you connect both cities in your company?
Martijn: “Amsterdam and Berlin are our cities, the concept works well in both and there’s a certain connection between the two. The atmosphere in Berlin now, is the same atmosphere Amsterdam had 20 years ago, with the squatters and the more casual vibe. On the other hand there are moving more and more yuppies to Berlin, like in Amsterdam. So both cities have the same vibe going on.”

Where can we admire your lamps in Amsterdam?
Martijn: “On May 17, we ‘re opening the Blom & Blom Gallery, in a former slaughterhouse just outside Amsterdam. Furthermore, Amsterdam Roest has six of our lamps hanging in the back of the café. Also, new hotspot Hutspot has different kinds of lamps hanging around in their pledge. Pieces of our collection go around the world, and can be found in new interiors from London to Los Angeles.”

What are your future plans?
Kamiel: “Besides our lamps we also refurbish other stuff from the factories, like switches for the lamps and coffee tables. We want to work on our own designs more. We want to rebuild old heaters into new lamps and redesign lamps into other objects such as tables. And of course, the story will still be essential. We also hope to do more big projects where we can use our creativity, like decorating entire offices.”

Blom & Blom Gallery

Where: Dorpsstraat 17 Ilpendam
Online: Webshop

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