Irma Boom is the 2014 laureate of the Johannes Vermeer Award. In honor of this prize, Mathieu Lommen wrote an essay on her life and work, Irma Boom: Autonomously Assigned.
Chapter one starts as follow: Irma Boom obsessively explores the book as a physical object, seeking with each one to create a unique material translation of its content. For her, book design is closely related to architecture: it all comes down to size, scale and proportion. The focus is clearly on the industrially produced edition. As she puts it, “I don’t design villas; I’m more concerned with social housing.”
In modern overviews of graphic design, from the 19th century onwards the book begins to vanish from sight. It seems to find it difficult to compete with lithographed posters and illustrated magazines and catalogues. In general the book has always been, and remains, a non-innovative medium. Furthermore only the cover, reproduced reduced in size, makes for a pretty picture. But the digital revolution was a godsend for Irma Boom: the printed book increasingly needed to justify its physical form. Her daring designs have helped the printed book to resurface in the digital age, becoming irreplaceable and even exciting for both graphic designers and a wider audience.
Author: Mathieu Lommen