Things I Love: KLM Delft Blue Houses

My Houses -a gift from Daniel from Amsterdam

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines is the national airline of the Netherlands.  For nearly 60 years, KLM has handed out small ceramic replicas of historical Dutch houses filled with Dutch ‘genever’ to passengers in Business Class. Each Delft miniature depicts a real Dutch house, and the houses are made using the same glazing process as the famous blue tiles produced in the Dutch city of Delft. KLM has produced almost a hundred different models since 1952, and every year on October 7th the airline presents a new house to mark its anniversary. The houses have become a desirable collectors item and have generated a lively trade on websites such as eBay. KLM also recently launched a mobile app for iPhone and Android phones that lists all KLM houses, so passengers no longer have to bring crumpled notes with them in order to pick their favourite house.

Life Imitating Art Imitating Life: ‘Out of the Blue’

KLM’s Delft Blue miniature houses get a full-scale version in Amsterdam.

The KLM miniature houses have also been the source of inspiration for a series of full-scale houses recently built In the centre of Amsterdam. In 2009, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, an organization involved in urban restoration in Amsterdam, had been commissioned by the Municipality of Amsterdam to spruce up the ‘Oudezijds Armsteeg’, a badly run-down 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.

A flight in KLM’s Business Class provided the inspiration for a life-size version of the airline’s iconic Delft Blue houses in a project called ‘Out of the Blue’. Says Jaap Hulscher, deputy director of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, “I was flying in KLM Business Class and received one of those little KLM houses. This made me start noticing them everywhere around the world, and I realized that this is the traditional image people in other countries may have of how we live in the Netherlands. At the same time, nobody in the Netherlands has got this image.”

Stadsherstel asked an architect to design 6 houses inspired by the iconic white glazed bricks, wide bright blue frames and roofing tiles, and little stepped gavels of the KLM miniature houses. The local aesthetics’ committee in Amsterdam, who looks after the historic character of the inner city also gave their permission. The result are a row of white and blue houses with shops, including a local brewery, on the ground floor and rental apartments on the upper floors. KLM hasn’t been involved in the project, but has reacted enthusiastically. (From