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Irma Boom: A Dutch Graphic Designer With a Speciality in Bookmaking


Irma Boom (b. 1960)

Many of us are drawn to graphic design because of a fascination with books. The smell of a newly printed page, the familiar crease of a spine resting in your hand and perhaps more significantly, the endless adaptations of its traditional form. Dutch designer, Irma Boom has spent her career questioning book design as we know it, constantly challenging convention with her unique architectural approach.

Irma’s interpretation of book design has earned her some big-name clients, which she affectionately terms her ‘commissioners’. Amongst the list is Chanel, for which Boom designed a beautifully brave piece. The book is completely void of ink, with Boom opting to emboss every single image resulting in a wonderfully stark piece of design.




In certain instances Boom’s work has led her to collaborate even further with her clients, as in the case of KnollTextiles she was invited to design her own textile range, ‘The Stripes Collection‘ following the success of a catalogue Boom previously designed for Knoll’s 2011 Textiles.

On researching her work further, KnollTextiles’ Director Dorothy Cosonas saw Boom’s potential for textile design in her book ‘Color based on Nature’ (Thomas Eyck, 2012) in which Boom took colours from 80 UNESCO nature sites  to reveal a series of beautifully abstract patterns. I so admire the dexterity in Boom’s work and how she invests so much in the concept of the book as a whole.


Boom’s design for the James Jennifer Georgina Postcard book is perhaps one of my favourite designs. It consists entirely of postcards and it’s spine allows the book to sit completely open in an accordion formation, enabling the reader to flick through with ease. Boom’s handling of the content is perfect and shows the work in the best light possible.



To celebrate the vast number of books Irma has designed so far in her career she held a retrospective exhibition in 2013 for which she designed a fascinating accompanying catalogue measuring 1.5 x 2 inches and weighing just under 2 ounces! The meticulously designed book is packed full of Irma’s successes. During an interview with ‘Designers and Books’ Irma explained how small books are an intrinsic part of her design process;

I always show the models to the people who commission me and they are completely seduced, but then they never want to make a small book as a finished product.

If you’d like to see some of Irma’s work in action, watch Irma talk through her miniature exhibition catalogue in the video below.


I’m continually inspired by the work of Irma Boom and what she has contributed to graphic design. Her achievements are phenomenal, with her being the youngest ever laureate to receive the prestigious Gutenberg prize for her work in book design. She is totally and utterly dedicated to her work as a designer and on talk of her retirement she was recently quoted saying;

I think I will die behind my desk, cutting and gluing a book. That’s what I hope.

Her work is never far from my mind when I’m working on a new brief and I for one am extremely excited to see what she does next!

If you enjoyed discovering more about Irma Boom and you’re a #shillony student or graduate make sure to visit the MoMA where Irma has designed 50 books in the permanent collection.

We will return later in the month for another look at one of our design heroes, so keep your eye on our Throwback Thursday section for updates. 

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