Have you ever flown business class with KLM? If you have, you most likely received a small Delft Blue Porcelain house on board. KLM has been handing these out to Business Class passengers since 1953. Law dictated that Air companies were not allowed to give presents to their customers because of unfair competition. So, KLM had some Blue Delft houses made, and filled them with Dutch genever. The airline snickered at complaints from the competition. “May we decide how we serve our drinks please? Does the law dictate drinks have to be served in a glass?”. Very clever, as the miniature homes have been collectors items since. They enjoy an almost iconic status with fan sites and trading communities online all over the world. KLM has even launched an App for those collecting the houses so they can complete their collection.
For the true die-hard fans it is now possible to live in a house modelled on the KLM houses. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organisation involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, wanted to spruce up ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down narrow street in the city’s red-light district. The plan was to make the street attractive to tourists again by introducing business activities and giving it a real Amsterdam feeling. Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel, was once handed a miniature house on board of a KLM flight, and started wondering if this is what people from around the world thought the Dutch houses looked like.
Architect Kees Doornenbal was given the assignment to design 6 houses inspired by the iconic KLM houses. The project is called Out of the Blue. The outside walls are painted in a shiny white to make them look like they are porcelain. The window frames and eaves are painted in royal blue to mimic the blue used in Delftware. The first habitants have been given their keys.
Air France-KLM, as the company if officialy called, hasn’t been involved in the project, but was thrilled ‘their’ houses inspired this project. The company was however involved in another project where Delft Blue houses were the inspiration. In Caloocan City in the Philippines the airliner built family homes as part of its corporate social responsibility program. Each unit cost Php93,500 (USD2,100/EUR 1,600) and measures 20 square metres with one bedroom, toilet, bath, kitchen sink and a laundry area.