Irma Boom: Book Manifest

‘Irma Boom: Book Manifest’ is on display at the Allard Pierson from 1 February to 8 May. Featuring unfinished work by graphic designer Irma Boom, the exhibition in the hall highlights not so much the finished article but the design and production process that precedes it. Boom has personally designed and arranged the exhibition, making maximum use of the tall walls and marble floor of the monumental architecture.

The Allard Pierson holds the archive of Irma Boom (b. 1960), one of the most exciting graphic designers on the international scene. Innovative books form the core of this archive. A designer’s archive usually contains not only correspondence and other documents but also ‘rough’ material. ‘Book Manifest’ shows what happens before printing and binding: the experimentation and the exciting search for the ultimate form.

The exhibition lets visitors follow the various stages of development in seven projects from the period 2006–2021. Each concept is unique and tailored for one assignment only. The projects vary greatly: from an academic monograph to an artist’s book. Five printing sheets reveal the graphic concept for her 1,200–page ode to the artist Ellsworth Kelly. Other featured projects include books for the architect Rem Koolhaas, textile artist Sheila Hicks, chronicler Jennifer Butler, fashion house Chanel, fashion artists Victor & Rolf and fashion designer and artist Martin Margiela. The finished, printed works are shown in videos.

‘Book Manifest’ shows how, in today’s digital world, Irma Boom continues to be fascinated by the printed book, by its tradition, and especially by its new possibilities.