The Blakstad headquarters is located on a back road between San Carlos and San Lorenzo. It’s a distinctive building, and it will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the history of the firm that it contains a rich architectural story. It was renovated by founder Rolph Blakstad, whose expertise in classical texts and ancient architectures stemmed from his years as a documentarian and antiquities restorer with a voracious appetite for learning. With the Blakstad office, he had the opportunity to craft a dreamscape inspired by the ancient architectural mythology of King Solomon’s Temple.
Before diving into the origins of the story, it’s important to acknowledge the considerable challenge of providing reliable sources of information for events that transpired thousands of years ago. Archaeologists and historians diverge occasionally on specific aspects of the Temple’s narrative, yet despite the absence of physical evidence, most scholars believe it was situated at the current Temple Mount site in Jerusalem. Due to its veneration within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, and the profound religious and political sensitivity associated with the location, recent archaeological investigations are practically non-existent. For the sake of our exploration, let’s draw our insights from the Book of Kings in the Hebrew Bible and not get too bogged down in little things like easily cited facts.
To cut a very long and very old story short, a young shepherd called David triumphed over the Philistine giant Goliath with a slingshot and, in doing so, earned the favour of King Saul – the first king of the United Kingdom of Israel. After Saul was killed in battle, David was anointed as king sometime around 855 BCE. His reign was marked by adultery, murder, filicide, and betrayal, as befitting any ancient royal family, but his greatest desire was to construct a temple dedicated to Yahweh. He died at the age of 70, a pretty good innings for those times, and skipped over his natural heir Adonijah to appoint Solomon, his son from his affair with Bathsheba, to succeed him. One can imagine the dynamics at the family Passover dinner. David’s quest to build a temple was bequeathed to Solomon.
The temple’s primary purpose was to house the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred relic in the Israelite religion. This revered artefact was placed in the inner sanctum, a windowless room called the Holy of Holies. The Ark, crafted from acacia wood and overlaid with gold, featured an elaborate lid referred to as the mercy seat, where it was believed that the presence of God resided. It is said to have contained the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron’s Rod, and a pot of manna – yes, that manna, the one from heaven. The architectural brilliance of Solomon’s Temple was renowned in its time, following a design closely aligned with ancient Near Eastern architectural traditions, characterized by intricate carvings, precious metals, and fine craftsmanship. This is why it makes total sense that Roplh Blakstad chose it as the basis for the office.
Readers of this blog and Blakstad aficionados are likely aware that the Blakstad style draws on the ancient methods and motifs found in Ibiza vernacular architecture, which itself has roots in Phoenicia. This is where Hiram the First, the Phoenician king of Tyre, comes into the picture. Tyre was one of the earliest Phoenician metropolises, and Hiram had a deep friendship with both David and Solomon, the latter considering them as brothers. Hiram agreed to help with the construction of the temple, sending cedar and cypress trees in exchange for wheat and olive oil and a little bit of bonus wine as a token of Solomon’s gratitude. It’s akin to modern-day, middle-aged men chatting at a hardware store, sharing tips and tools, and exchanging the contact details of trusted contractors. Indeed, the construction of the temple was overseen by skilled craftsman sent from Tyre, who also bore the name Hiram.
Laid out with grand symmetry, the temple comprised three distinct sections: the outer courts, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies. The outer courts, open to the public, were adorned with intricate carvings and served as a magnificent gateway to the sacred inner sanctum. Notably, the entrance to the Blakstad office bears a resemblance to these shapes, featuring a simple stone and plaster façade, columns, and double doors that mimic the descriptions of Solomon’s Temple.
Inside, while the office layout loosely draws inspiration from the temple, Rolph incorporated various elements from his extensive architectural knowledge, as documented in his book The House of Ibiza: The Key to a Millennial Tradition (more information can be found here). Specifically, the inner courtyard with its elongated pool, rough-hewn stone basin reminiscent of old animal troughs found at Ibiza’s wells, the internal lantern crowned by stained glass, and the four central pillars all incorporate motifs from ancient Moorish, Roman, Greek, and Levantine architectures in addition to traditional Ibiza symbology – elements that have become synonymous with the Blakstad name. We think King Solomon, one of history’s earliest architecture buffs, would approve.