【BODW 2014】Irma Boom講座RECAP

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“I think of my work as being commissioned
by ‘commissioners’ rather than by clients:
a collaboration on equal terms in freedom and trust.”

——by Irma Boom, Book Designer

去年12月初,我出席了Business of Design Week (BODW) 的 Communication Design Session講座,其中一位我非常渴望能現場一睹其風采的講者是——荷蘭著名女書籍設計師Irma Boom。當天她竟與聶永真同台演講,機會千載難逢,真的不可錯過呢!

Irma Boom是全球知名的書籍設計師,我很久以前就已經留意她及其作品了,雖然說不上是偶像,但作為一個書籍設計師能做到此等級數,確實讓我非常敬佩,也是很值得學習的對象。在此以前,我經常閱讀與她相關的報導、在Youtube看她的講座、在歐洲買很多她所造的書、看她的展覽等;上次更在阿姆斯特丹找她找到摸門釘。一路以來就是差點機會沒有見過其真身,這次她終於來到香港了,於是找緊機會去見見她!

聽她的講座的確感覺非常有趣動聽,觀眾會感覺到她的高傲、自信、串咀、以及風報幽默。就是因為她擁有自己獨有的情緒,有血有肉,會說「love, hate, fuck!」等人話,不會像某些學者演講時偽客觀離地到與觀眾十萬丈遠。她說話的直接與平易近人,就好像在你耳邊講每本書背後的故事給你聽一樣,沒有什麼距離感,好易入耳,好想多聽她與Commissioners們「交戰」的故事啊~!

當場我還把她的講座錄了音,回去再細聽。以下是我翻聽後所節錄出來的講話,值得思考:

I will now recap in English.

01_

In Holland, we have a very interesting graphic industry. But it’s a pity that a lot of companies like binders and printers are closed down almost every week because all the books are printed in China. It’s of course very bad for us but good for China and Hong Kong.

02_

Everybody said it’s the end of the book. People just don’t buy books. I don’t think the book is short of that. I think the book has a great future. Because of the internet, I think it’s more interesting to make books, especially the internet is flex of information. If you talk about books, the book is solid, it’s not changeable. I think we have a hunger for a thing which has edited. The book is edited, the internet is not edited. It’s too much information. So that’s why I think that the urge from the relevant and the assistance of the books. The book is more and more an issue. I also don’t think the book is dead. It’s the same what they do in England. If the king is dead, they said, ‘the king is dead, long live the king’. I think it’s the same with books. The book is more live than ever.

03_

Here you see me at the University Library. Here is my living archive. Here are over 300 books. If you make so many books, not all books are a success. Many Books are in failure. I think to make failure and mistake is really important because it’s a experiment. For me, making books is not routine, it’s a life. Every book is different.

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This is a book I made for Chanel, a fashion brand. It’s about the Chanel No. 5. It’s a perfume. I brought it with me here. The whole book is about perfume No. 5. It’s totally white. It has no ink. The image is embossed. You can only feel it basically. You cannot really see it. For me, in a way, it’s an ultimate book because you need ink, of course, to communicate and too share information, but I found a way for Chanel to tell a story by almost invisible. It’s like I wear Chanel No. 5 at the moment which you cannot see it. I think that’s the same with this book. When I make books, I’m very very close to the subject. I don’t want to invent too much, I mean “interpretation”. I also think that I’m really a bad designer. So, I want really really stare, as close as possible, to the idea and contents.

There is a story why Chanel could made No. 5 as it is. It’s a very Avant Garde perfume. The bottle is more Avant Garde. I research and I know why she could make it because she was surrounded by those Avant Garde artists. In this way, if you compare it with other perfume at that time, you can see it’s really Avant Garde. So I think to make an Avant Garde book was very important. But to make a book with all embossing is really difficult. If you cut the book in the end and you bind it and you have to press it. Then all embossing is gone. So I have to find a new technique how to bind books.

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For me, it’s a really big issue. I can never walk outside, as everyone said you make a terrible logo. That is not true. If you are a graphic designer, you are not famous. Try to be a football player. To be a famous person. As a graphic designer, no one cares. You make a logo, nobody, nobody!

06_

All the time I asked, why do you want to make a book? There is website. Yeah, the book is more steady than the website. The website everyone can make. To make a book is something else.

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For me again, everybody said the book is dead. I think the book, again, is more alive than ever.

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The whole idea of the book changes. Of course, apart from distributing information, it’s also a piece of art. The cover and the edges are printed with the artwork of De Volkskrant, a very good Dutch artist. You can hang the book on the wall. It’s my favourite book.

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This is the only book I have my name on the cover. This book for Onno Blom. It’s the first time my name is on the cover. If I make a book, I think I’m also a part of the editorial board as well, an author. But no one ever asked me to put my name on the cover. This specific case, the author Onno Blom said we both on the cover, which we worked both for the book. I thought it was really amazing!

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If I make books, it’s always a 3 or 4 years projects. It’s always very long long long time.

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We could ever say a book is a manifesto. Manifesto for the book is this book. It’s a book for an American textile artist Sheila Hicks living in Paris.

(Sheila Hicks這富其代表性的故事,我之前已寫了一篇專文〈訊息雕刻時光〉詳盡闡釋,在這裡不再冗述了。)

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I made a book for Ferrari Engines. And Ferrari, of course, is an Italian car company. I’ve seen many Ferrari already in Hong Kong in the day I’m here. In Holland, you don’t see Ferrari because we have too tiny country for too fast car.

When they sent me email, I thought it was spam. Why a company from Italy called a Dutch Female designer to work for them? I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t reply in the first time.

I finally replied the email. They said, “We really want you to work for us!” and I said, “Well, Okay, I can come tomorrow.” They said, “We can pick you up.” Well, I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke. There were so many designers in Italy.

The next day I was on my way to Maranello. I flew to Bologna. At the airport, a very nice blue metallic Modena 360 and a driver was waiting for me. It was a very first time a sportscar. Such beautiful car! The driver only asked me “fast or slow?” I thought it was so funny. Why asked me when you are driving a Ferrari? “Fast” of course. It was fantastic.

They showed me the factory. I’m so in love with Ferrari.

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I think this thick book, SHV Think Book, which I worked for 5 years. It was very exciting of this unsexy company. There was a very interesting CEO. They commissioned me to work for 5 years to make something unusual. They only said, “make something unusual!” I think, since this book, if there is no trust and no freedom, I cannot work anymore. I’m so spoiled with the condition. I think it should be, for all of you, only can work in trust and freedom.

IRMA BOOM 簡介(刊於BODW場刊):

Boom於恩斯赫德的AKI藝術學院唸平面設計,畢業後於海牙之荷蘭政府出版及印刷局工作。自1992年起,Boom於美國耶魯大學任資深評論家,她設計的書籍獲獎無數,而她更成為著名「古騰堡獎」最年輕的得主。

1991年創辦Irma Boom Office,為荷蘭國內外文化及商業界服務,其客戶包括阿姆斯特丹國立博物館、Paul Fentener van Vlissingen、紐約現代藝術博物館、泰特現代藝術館、Prince Claus基金、Prada基金會、法拉利、瑪莎拉蒂及香奈兒。

Boom是阿姆斯特丹的平面設計師,專門製作書籍,她設計的書籍達250本。她眾多作品中的成名作,要算是她為慶祝荷蘭企業SHV Holdings成立一百周年而設計並厚達2,136頁的書籍《SHV Think Book 1996-1896》。

Boom has studied graphic design at the AKI Art Academy in Enschede, the Netherlands. After graduation, she worked at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office in The Hague. Since 1992, she has been a senior critic at Yale University in the United States. She has won a multitude of awards for her book designs and is the youngest-ever laureate to receive the prestigious Gutenberg prize for her complete oeuvre.

Established Irma Boom Office in 1991, working nationally and internationally in both the cultural and commercial sectors, her clients include commissions for the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, Museum of Modern Art New York, Tate Modern, Prince Claus Fund, Fondazione Prada, Ferrari, Maserati and Chanel.

Boom is an Amsterdam-based graphic designer specialised in book-making and has made over 250 books. One of her most famous titles is the 100th anniversary book of the Dutch conglomerate SHV, “SHV Think Book 1996-1896”, spanning at 2,136 pages.

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Contributor

Hei Shing
chanheishing@gmail.com

書就是… A Book is…


一片紙不但表現時間,也表現空間。而一片片的紙張組合起來的書就是一個高深的容器,盛滿文字,既能從中不斷汲取智慧,又能裝入無限的智慧。

A piece of paper reflects not only time but also space. Books are formed by binding papers together to become containers of words that serve as a reservoir as well as a spring of wisdom.

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