Out & About with Wout - Irma boom

by Wouter Stroo - April 2023



RIJKSMUSEUM until 7 MEI 2023
daily opened from  9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
20th century department


Because all tickets for the 37 paintings by Vermeer for the Rijksmuseum were sold out within a few days, it might be a better idea to visit the exhibition of more than thirty books by Irma Boom. They are exhibited there alongside works of art (from the museum's collection) that inspired Irma Boom and that have been brought together for this exhibition.

For example, the aluminum book Renault=Présent from 2016 is displayed next to the aluminum chainmail dress by Paco Rabanne from 1967. And we see the completely white Chanel 5 book next to the white relief work R70-63 by Jan Schoonhoven. There is also the wonderful book about Sheila Hicks' work with her miniature weaves. It is interesting to see for yourself the relationship between the works of art (books) by Boom and the works of art that are on display there.

Irma Boom, also the designer of the (high-profile) logo and house style of the Rijksmuseum, and the Delfts Blue tiled wall in the tunnel under Amsterdam Central Station, mainly makes beautiful books. She builds her book designs entirely by hand and sometimes works on them for up to five years, often designing the paper herself. She is the only (living) designer whose books are collected by the MoMa in New York and Center Pompidou in Paris. She receives major commissions from artists and architects, including Rem Koolhaas, with whom she enjoys working.

Here's a nice interview with her in Theo Maassen's podcast series Experience for Beginners.


“A book doesn't have to be neat at all, it has to be radical or anarchic, which is much more interesting than the newly raked front garden.”

During her internship at the Staatsdrukkerij (1988) in The Hague, Irma Boom was given complete freedom to show that you can turn a book into a work of art. This edition (her first 'best-designed book') got quite out of hand in terms of the number of pages (97 pages were requested; it turned out to be 700), but she saw no other option to present the book differently. She had to answer for that, but the book was already finished by then.

This exhibition can be seen until the 7th of May on the third floor of the Rijksmuseum.

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