Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom, dubbed “the queen of books,” specializes in making and designing books, having over 300 creations to her name so far. Her books are dominant in their architectural form, and she sees them as a conduit for the delivery of information. A thorough investigation of the book’s content inspires her designs in order to enhance the reader’s understanding of the book, while also adding an elevating element of beauty and aesthetics aimed to amplify the visual resonance of the book’s text and narrative. From typography all the way to the actual material, every detail of Boom’s projects has a reason and an underlying logic behind it.
One of her most prominent works is a creation for acclaimed fashion designer Coco Chanel. Entirely devoid of ink, the 300-page book instead features embossed and engraved text. The idea and concept behind the book was inspired by the famous perfume Chanel No.5, aiming to create sensation rather than center a visual stimulus. This idea is manifested in several of Boom’s designs, where she incorporates multi-sensational experiences into feeling (rather than merely reading) the books. Scent is another singular, unusual property that she has utilized in one of her book designs, for the The Road Not Taken, which has 718 pages of printed ink mixed with a base of beef bouillon fragrance, with some pages featuring coffee-scented filter paper.
Booms strives to generate a vivid and tactile experience for the reader, which results in an active rather than passive involvement with the book. The fact that Boom enjoys shattering conventional printing and design formats (for example, some of her books may be devoid of page numbers or printed in an entirely reversed chronological order) speaks volumes about her anarchist sensibility and her deliberate and strenuous efforts to break boundaries of every sort.