An invention that explains itself with no need for a manual: a window that becomes a balcony. Who thought of that? A young Dutch architect who believes everyone in our crowded cities should have access to the outside from their own apartment. Meet Michiel Hofman and learn what drives him in the problem solver interview.

Our world is full of problems. And that is a good thing. It is problems that make some people discover skills they didn’t know they had. They can get so passionate about the dilemma at hand, that they don’t stop until they found the solution. The predicaments that need fixing are as diverse and fascinating as the authors of their solutions. With seven questions I want to get to know the problem solvers of our times a little better…

Michiel Hofman (39) is an architect and co-founder of Hofman Dujardin Architects based in Amsterdam in The Netherlands. Barbara Dujardin is the partner of Michiel and the co-founder of the architecture firm. Michiel studied at the Technical University in Delft. Hofman Dujardin Architects works on a large variety of projects. Some current projects are the underground villa in Geldrop, the interior of law firm DLA Piper in Amsterdam, the interior of the energy company Eneco in Rotterdam and the design and development of the Bloomframe (see article in this blog) balcony which has been drawing a lot of attention lately. The Bloomframe received three major international awards - Wallpaper* Design Award 2009 in the category ‘Most-life-enhancing-product’, the Audi Design Award 2008 in The Netherlands and the red dot design award 2008 in Germany.

1. Describe the source of your vision?
The idea was to offer outdoor space to people who do not have the opportunity to enjoy outdoor space in their apartment.

2. Who or what taught you to be an entrepreneur / problem solver?
I don’t see myself as a problem solver. We don’t bring solutions to problems, we look around us and try to improve the quality of life.

3. Describe your entrepreneurial / problem solver breakthrough moment.
Like many people we have new ideas all the time. If you look around you there are many questions you can ask yourself. Finding answers to normal questions can lead to new ideas. The same happened with the Bloomframe balcony. The question was ‘Why can’t we fix the loading gear from a truck into a façade?’ A quite simple question which lead to the design and the development of a façade which can open up and turn into a balcony.

4. Which book has inspired you most?
I am charmed by the book Narziss und Goldmund from Hermann Hesse; I am triggered by the contrast of things; the ordinary vs the crazy; simplicity vs complexity; earth vs the sky etc…

5. Which technology or invention can’t you live without?
The technology of hart transplantation saved the life of one of my best friends. He received a new hart at the age of 35. Furthermore there are many inventions which make the daily life more pleasant.

6. Your best advice to other potential problem solvers out there?
Just look around you. The best ideas are always closer than you expect. And you don’t have to be a designer to have good ideas.

7. What other problem would you want to solve if you had the time?
Lately I was wondering why so much energy is wasted through our traffic lights. Why are we using three lamps, while only on is lit at a time? Cultural habits determine this extreme inefficiency. So, I would like to design a sustainable traffic light which consists of one lamp only.