When speaking about architecture, Piet Blom liked to use words like ‘thingography’ and ‘obstacle science’. These words sound more playful and this suited him well: a broader definition of architecture without the need to make a distinction between house construction, urban development, furniture design or landscaping. For Piet Blom it all came down to plain arrangement; arrangement of life on every scale.
Through his arrangements he could create space, which then — almost casually — could be given their name: chair, bed, room, house, garden, street, block, city, land. It sprouted a new and fresh view on architecture and design, which eventually yielded Piet Blom’s remarkable, unconventional oeuvre.
Piet Blom grew up in the Jordaan district of Amsterdam, where he often wandered the streets and liked to observe the worker’s houses that surrounded him. After learning the trade of carpentry and drafting he started his studies at the Academie van Bouwkunst (Academy of Architecture), where a.o. Aldo van Eyck was his teacher. In 1962, Piet Blom received the prestigious Prix de Rome for his design of a village voor children. The erratic order of this design would prove itself a key characteristic in the rest of his oeuvre.
For Piet Blom, the idea of living under one, urban rooftop together was a leading motive for shaping his designs. Most of his architectural work reflect this idea with terraced housing high up in the sky, like treetops. His cube houses in Rotterdam are probably his most notable and notorious work in this regard. He had the special ability to unite ordinary living with the more extraordinary traits of a culture at large.
Piet Blom’s furniture design express a similar multi-dimensionality, as if to defy the logic of right and left, below and above, front and back — very refreshing!
Reference and images: © Hengeveld, Jaap et al. Het Rotterdam van Piet Blom: nieuw leven aan de Oude Haven, Amersfoort: Hengeveld Publicaties, 2010
+ © De Wit, C. “Blom is bezig met ‘een andere architectuur’” in Goed Wonen nr. 8, August 1964.
Text + image: © KADER design