The test of time

Black + Blum, a London-based home design duo, say their job is to spot everyday items that don’t work and offer a better alternative.

Black and Blum (photo credit: Courtesy)
Black and Blum
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Happy Tie chain of gift shops is the representative of Black + Blum in
Israel and all the items shown, can be purchased in their shops in most shopping
malls including Malha in Jerusalem, G Center and Arim in Kfar Saba, Renanim
in Ra'anana, Azrieli in Tel Aviv and Modi'in.
Antique fairs and markets are a great place to hunt for one-of-a-kind accents to spruce up your home or office. For that reason, they are frequented by interior decorators. In the eyes of designer Dan Black, the true test of any design item happens there, in the stalls and crowded shops of the antique retail world.
“The best testament to a successful design is if it can have a value in a second-hand design store in 20 years’ time. Not many designs have this attribute and it is something that we always strive to get in to all our designs,” he told The Jerusalem Post in a recent interview.
Black is a half of the label black + blum. He was born in England and received most of his training in his home country. He met his current partner, Martin Blum, while studying at the University of Northumbria in Newcastle. Blum grew up in Switzerland. He developed a love of British culture from an early age and found himself inexplicably drawn to the rainy winters of Newcastle. While in school, Black and Blum became fast friends. They designed many items together, creating the seeds for what would become a fruitful partnership. “Our very first design,” ruminated Black, “was a vacuum cleaner.”
Upon graduation, Black and Blum shopped around for a city that would place at them at the center of innovation. The choice was simple, explained Black. In 1998, they landed in London and started work.
Now black + blum is an international design house, exporting products to over 1,000 distributors on six continents. In addition, they are valued consultants in many areas of industrial design. They have won countless design awards and are considered to be at the top of their class.
Each product marks a new collaboration between the two designers. They are in constant, full-on collaboration. No black + blum item has escaped the keen eye of Black or the critical attention of Blum.
Their inventory includes key holders, wine racks, mini-lamps and tons of other knickknacks for the home. And while black + blum products are sold at high-end gift shops, the duo view themselves as the ultimate clients.
“We think of our customers [when we design], but we also think of ourselves. This is to say that we are the end customers. You will find all designs in our homes and this is the best way to design, as we will also be the harshest critics,” said Black.
The philosophy behind their label is simple: clever designs at realistic prices. Each morning is a new opportunity for Black and Blum to find new solutions to common, household items.
“We are inspired by the world around us. Everyday objects will offer the inspiration for new designs. Too often, people become complacent about using common everyday objects which don’t work well.
Our job is to spot these items and offer a better alternative,” Black said. Sometimes, he continued, achieving optimal redesign can take moments, sometimes years. “If we don’t think the design is finished, we won’t compromise by launching it but will keep working on it until we think it is perfect.”
At present, black + blum products are sold in Israel exclusively by Most-wanted is dedicated to bringing international labels to the Israeli consumer.
Alongside black + blum are 10 other brands that have been handpicked to suit the needs of the local customer.
(It’s a great place to browse for birthday presents.) In the grand scheme of things, black + blum is a young company. The 20-years test that Black spoke of will be possible in 2018, at the very earliest. However, the success of their work has given good indication that seven years from now we might very well find ourselves scouting for vintage black + blum in local flea markets.