The Story Behind the Blom & Blom Store
The Story Behind the Blom & Blom Store
Our adventure began with our dream and, like a lot of start-ups, the next step was to workout how and where we could make it come true. For us, it started in a small outbuilding on our parents’ property in Ilpendam, a rather remote village 15 kilometers north of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The shed was home to our first workshop where we worked with our small team of dedicated craftsmen. In the first year, we grew from a staff of two to four. It was freezing in the winter, but luckily, we had a small, wood burning stove to keep us warm. Humble beginnings for our big plans, but we were driven by a ‘Can do - Make do!’ spirit that has since led us to bigger and better things.
In our back-to-basics workshop, we worked overtime refurbishing the amazing pieces we had recovered from abandoned factories, bringing them back to life so we could pass them on to be enjoyed anew by our customers. Our next move was to find a place where we could present our handiwork to the public, and that turned out to be an old butcher’s shop just up the road in Ilpendam. The shop was just big enough to display our first series of restored pieces and meet with our slowly but steadily growing group of clients.
We were off and running, but in too many directions. It was clear for us that we needed one single location to bring our workshop, office and showroom together, streamline our endeavors and simply make life easier.
The Search was On!
Our search for the right location started with two options: in the centre of Amsterdam with small spaces and high rents, or in Amsterdam North, with larger spaces and lower rents and... only a free 4-minute ferry ride from Amsterdam Central Station. As you can imagine, the choice was easy. We continued our search in the recently revived Amsterdam North. We still didn’t have a spot, but we knew we were closer to home.
Amsterdam North reminded us of Berlin where Kamiel had lived for a few years and where our fascination with industrial artifacts began. With its raw and wide open spaces, Amsterdam North is an area where you can move freely, walk the waterside, see the horizon and discover a diversity of shops and cafes, many of which have been started by other adventurous entrepreneurs with a story to tell. It felt pure somehow and inspired our sense of creativity. We knew we were on the right track.
On a side note, if you ever make it to Amsterdam, be sure and check out the ferries leaving from behind Amsterdam Central Station taking you to some really cool spots in Amsterdam North like the NDSM wharf, previously abandoned and now transformed into an eclectic urban-hip locale with lots to offer.
But, back to our dilemma. We still had to find a space that would work for us, and a space that spoke to us. We searched high and low, including an online classified advertising website called Marktplaats (Marketplace) that led us to where we wanted to go: a Jaguar garage in Amsterdam Noord.
From Lawnmower to Jaguar
At last we had found the space we were looking for and it was love at first sight. It is a former Jaguar showroom with enough space for everything we do - under one roof.
We have transformed it into our showroom, office, and workshop. The renovation took about 2-3 months. We put in a new facade, which we designed and built ourselves. A fun fact: the owner of the building had one condition which was that it should still be possible to open up the front and drive a car inside. And, that’s why we have such large doors on the front, which we made from classic old greenhouse doors that we’d salvaged, of course.
We created separate spaces on the main floor with our showroom in front and the workshop in the back, again using vintage greenhouse doors that let the light in and keep the workshop dust - in the workshop. Our airy and open office area is on the upstairs floor overlooking the showroom.
There were a lot of original features that we kept, preserving the charm and history of the building. The original tiles on the walls and floor, which were made to be unbreakable - and still are. The ladder-like frame of the old counterbalance that had been used to pull up the doors to let cars in can still be seen, and is now a vertical partition draped in plants, adding the greenery of nature within. The beautiful old wired glass in the window-frames, the bold overhead steel beams, and the classic 1960s industrial “cassette” ceiling blend seamlessly with our intended style. We love the combination of nature and plants with industrial places, just like we find in the abandoned factories we explore, where nature has overtaken the industrial past. It is a striking and beautiful contrast that tells the story of past and present.
Home Sweet Home
Our Blom & Blom all-in store/workshop/office in Amsterdam North really feels like home. It’s a place where we enjoy working together and an environment that continues to inspire us 5 years later. Our venue is also a place where you can come and see us in action and exactly how we restore industrial artifacts and create our exclusive design collections.
The process of finding and making this incredible space our own has been a very personal journey that we wanted to share with you. We are always standing by to share our story behind the story of each piece we’ve created. You are the why behind what we do!
We welcome you personally to visit us if you get the chance, or contact us online at anytime.
Martijn and Kamiel Blom