Irma Boom – Iconoclastic Book Designer

Iconoclastic Book Designer – Irma Boom

Many of the most beautiful books to have been designed in recent years are the work of Irma Boom. Born in Lochem, the Netherlands in 1960, Boom has won international acclaim for the iconoclastic beauty of her books.

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Boom attended the AKI Art Academy in the Netherlands, where she studied graphic design.  She works both nationally and internationally in the cultural and commercial sectors. She has been a critic at Yale University and has both lectured and given workshops worldwide. Her work has received many awards, and she is the youngest person to have ever been honored with a Gutenberg Prize. Boom has made over 300 books, 100 of which are in the permanent collection of the MoMA in New York City.

She worked on the 2,136 page SHV Think Book as both editor and designer for five years; this book is responsible for her international fame. Research for the book took place in Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Vienna. The anniversary book was one of her biggest and communicated a narrative on the history of that company. It was designed to be distributed worldwide, yet Boom has calculated that it will take five hundred years for the book to spread to all the corners of the globe. Four thousand copies were printed in English and five hundred in Chinese. Her think book has become an international icon of Dutch design.



And her design for the book Weaving as Metaphor, by the American artist Sheila Hicks, was awarded ‘The Most Beautiful Book in the World’ at the Leipzig Book Fair.


Boom introduced the idea of a “fat book.” When asked what would make her create a book that was two inches tall and half as thick, she replied: “The book is small because whenever I make a book, I start by making a tiny one. Usually I make five, six or seven for each book, as filters for my ideas and to help me to see the structure clearly. I have hundreds of those small books and am so fond of them. I’ve always wanted to make one for publication, but no one has ever wanted to do it. And I thought, well, this time, I can.” Titled Irma Book: The Architecture of the Book, it contains 704 pages and 450 images.




Boom describes the process of her design for Hella Jongerius‘s book Misfit…

She has received extensive media coverage of her work, and the New York Times profiled her in an article titled “A Small Book in a Big Career.”

Irma Boom

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