Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Artist of the day, July 28, 2020: Irma Boom, a Dutch graphic designer (#1053)

Irma Boom (1960) is a Dutch graphic designer—who specializes in book making. Boom bold experimental approach to her projects often challenges the convention of traditional books in both physical design and printed content.

Boom has been noted as the youngest recipient of the Gutenberg Prize, an award recognizing outstanding services to the advancement of the book arts.

 Boom was the youngest child of nine in her family. Her venture into book design came by accident while pursuing painting at the AKI Academy of Art & Design. Boom had walked into a lecture on book design, and so profound was its impact that it inspired her to drop painting and join the graphic design department. Here she found a love for Swiss typography and began developing her creative voice.

Boom attended the AKI Art Academy in Enschede, Netherlands, where she pursued a B.F.A in graphic design. She experienced her first job as both an editor and designer during her time at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office in The Hague. It was here that she was noticed by Ootje Oxenaar, a designer of Dutch banknotes, who invited her to design two catalogues for special edition postage stamps between years 1987–1988. To him, she was the ‘designer of the crazy ads’. The annual Dutch postage stamp books was considered a prestigious opportunity with previous designers had including Wim Crouwel, Karl Maartens and Gert Dumbar. Boom's experimental style was evident in this particular publication, through the rich layers of information and imagery. Boom structured the book in a Japanese style binding and had text crossing multiple pages with printed folds and translucent paper. Though well received, this project drew a lot of public outcry for being overtly experimental in comparison to previous editions. Boom received much hate mail, particularly from stamp collectors. However, this controversy brought her name into the public stage and established her name as a designer.

Upon graduating during the 1980s, Boom decided to return to the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office where she worked for another five and a half years. It gave her the opportunity to jump right into the shoes of a designer rather than an assistant designer. During this time she became acquainted with Paul Fenter van Vlissingen who would invite her to design the SHV Think Book—a book which eventually elevated her status to a design star.

Boom founded the Irma Boom Office in Amsterdam in 1991. She continued to tackle projects nationally and internationally in both the cultural and commercial sectors. Since 1992, she has been a critic at Yale University, and has both lectured and given workshops worldwide. Her work has been shown at numerous international exhibitions, including her own solo exhibition in Amsterdam in 2011. She had been a member of the Supervisory Board Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam between 2004–2011 and has been a member of the board Premsela Foundation, Amsterdam since 2008.

Unconventional typographic trademarks of Boom may include the use of oversized type which successively shrinks from the opening to end of her book. This claims is a way to lure people into reading the introductory pages.

Boom also makes use of various finishing in her printed material such as embossing and die cuts. In her commissioned book for Chanel, Chanel N ͦ5, Boom printed an entire 300 page book devoid of ink, using instead embossed text and image to create a semi-invisible narrative of Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. The book is completely white and housed in a black box. The concept behind the book was inspired by the nature of perfume—it is best understood in an olfactive, not visual, manner—and relies on lesser dominant senses to tell the story.

Boom has designed most of her books with creative freedom in her designs. She designed a book titled Beautiful Ugly by Sarah Nuttall, with an olive-green colored cover and no pictures or text. "The book was designed in Amsterdam by Irma Boom, and I thank her for her extraordinary eye and prodigious talent for making books beautiful."

Irma Boom has created over 300 books. A selection of her books can be found at the permanent collection of the Architecture & Design department, MoMA.

© 2020. All content on this blog is protected by international copyright laws All images are copyrighted © by Irma Boom or assignee. Apart from fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, the use of any image from this site is prohibited unless prior written permission is obtained. All images used for illustrative purposes only

Ms. Irma Boom

 Nederlandse Postzegels

 Best Boek
Book cover,  1989

 Dutch Butterfly Postage Stamps

Cover, 1994

 SHV Think Book 1996-1896

 Ahrend Annual Report

 Vitra Workspirit Six
Cover, 1998

 Lichtjahre- Zumtobel 2000-1950
Cover, 2000

 Tussen Twee Culturen Postage Stamps

 Tutti i Motori Ferrari
Cover, 2002

 The Eleonora's First Atlantic Crossing
Cover, 2003

 The Future is Handmade, Journal 10a


 Rotterdams Kookboek


Covers, 2005

 Bladeren door het Amerikaanse landschap
Book cover,  2009

 Every Thing Design: The Collections of the Museum of Design Zürich

 Hella Jongerius: Misfit
Book cover,  2010

 James Jennifer Georgina
Book cover,  2010

 The Architecture of a Book
Book cover, 2010

 Knoll Textiles
Cover, 2011

 Project Japan: Metabolism Talks

 Color Based on Nature

 Robert Zandvliet: I Owe You the Truth in Painting 1650-2012
Book cover, 2012

 1001 Vrouwen uit de Nederlandse geschiedenis
Book cover, 2013

 Handbook of California Design

 Handbook of California Design
Book cover, 2013

 Hello World: Where Design Meets Life
Book cover, 2013

 Elements (15 books) 

Otto Treumann book jacket

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