When one of your creations is declared the most beautiful book in the world, how do you follow that up?
Maybe Irma Boom will discuss that when she speaks at the Mint Museum Uptown on Thursday, April 12, for its Contemporary Architecture + Design series. The Dutch designer is working with the Mint on a book about the giant textile that dominates the museum's atrium, Sheila Hicks' "Mega Footprint Near the Hutch."
That project will be a tall order, and not just because the "Footprint" is several stories high. The last book about Hicks that Boom designed, "Weaving as Metaphor," won the "most beautiful" prize at the Leipzig Book Fair in Germany. I'd put an image of the cover here, but that wouldn't much help. The front is white, meant to contrast with the vivid colors of the works depicted inside. The edges of the pages are ragged, evoking the rich surfaces Hicks creates. The introductory essay's type is big at the beginning -- aimed at drawing readers in -- then gets smaller with each page.
Persuading Yale University Press to go along with all that "was a struggle," Boom told the New York Times. "I was suggesting something very different to all of the other books they'd published. But they were courageous and, finally, let me do it." The books is one of about 50 by Boom that has landed in the Museum of Modern Art's collection -- as an artwork, you understand, not just a library item.
Another of Boom's best-known creations was commissioned by Dutch industrial conglomerate SHV. To mark the company's centennial, Boom envisioned a book with 4,000 pages. She spent five years collecting images and crafting her design. When she was done, the book turned out to be only 2,136 pages -- in one volume. Yet it has no page numbers or index. She wants readers to dive in anywhere.
"The book is a voyage," she told designmuseum.com. "You find things you don't want to find, and discoveries happen by coincidence." Here's a closer look at Boom and her books: