maandag 16 oktober 2017

NEDERLANDSE POSTZEGELS 1987/88: 2 Volume Set Dutch PTT Books designed by Irma Boom


Dutch PTT Books designed by Irma Boom

A Highlight of Modern Dutch Graphic and Book Design

Irma Boom [Design], Paul Hefting [introduction/compilition]: NEDERLANDSE POSTZEGELS 1987/88 [POSTSTEMPELS, ACHTERGRONDEN, EMISSIEGEGEVENS EN VORMGEVING]. The Hague: Staatsbedrijf der PTT, 1988. First editions in 2 volumes. Text in Dutch. Quartos. Blue and chipboard printed thick wrappers with foil stamping. 116 + 112 pp. Translucent vellum signatures  printed in 4-color recto and black versos, and perfect-bound in the Japanese-style. Multiple paper stocks. Elaborated design and typography throughout by Irma Boom. Former owner inkstamp and small glue stain to front endpapers of each volume. Wrappers lightly worn with trivial wear to edges, but a very good or better set.

This 2 volume set represents Irma Boom’s first published book designs, her first award-winnng book design and an enticing glimpse of her future career as “Queen of Books.” A copy of this set is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art [item 892.2007.1-2].

  [2] 9.75 x 7.33 softcover books with 228 total pages elaborately designed and printed in the Netherlands.  The two-volume celebrates the special edition stamp designs commissioned by the Dutch PTT during 1987 and 1988, and also features an index of the different postal cancellations used during those years. Each designer and their commission is given a thoughtful and almost dreamlike presentation via Irma Boom’s mind-blowing mise-en-page.

  “I compare my work to architecture. I don’t build villas, I build social housing. The books are industrially made and they need to be made very well. I am all for industrial production. I hate one-offs. On one book you can do anything, but if you do a print run, that is a challenge. It’s never art. Never, never, never.”

Irma Boom designed the interior pages using  4-color offset lithography for the front pages and black for the versos, then binding them japanese-style for a ghostly effect with the images of the past represented by faint blacks glowing through the color pages. An amazing, early example of Boom's groundbreaking book design, and another classic example of the forward thinking standards set by the Netherlands Post, Telegram and Telephone Services [PTT].

“Since 1920, the PTT Art & Design Department had commissioned artists, architects and designers to design its services and products. To me, the whole idea of Dutch design comes from the design policy of PTT, especially in the 1970s and 80s when Ootje Oxenaar was head of the department. “

“Working at the Staatsdrukkerij meant enormous creative freedom. Those were the heydays of art-book publishing. If you made a book cover, they would encourage you to use foil or special printing techniques. The department was a springboard for young designers who would work there for one or two years and go on to something more exciting. After my internship, I went to Dumbar and the Dutch television (NOS) design department. After I graduated I went back to the Staatsdrukkerij, and ended up staying for five-and-a-half years. I learned a lot. In retrospect, it was a very productive and super-creative time.”

“I did jobs nobody else wanted, like the advertisements for the publishing department, which was – thinking of it now – a smart thing to do because I could experiment. Those assignments were completely under the radar but they were seen by Oxenaar. He invited the designer of the ‘crazy ads’ to do one of the most prestigious book jobs: the annual Dutch postage-stamp books.”

  “Places like the Staatsdrukkerij don’t exist any more. When I started working there after graduation, I was immediately a designer (not a junior), and I quickly became a team leader. At that time I was very naive and fearless. I was not aware of an audience, and certainly not a critical audience! This vacuum is no longer possible for designers starting out today. I only became aware of the outside world after the prestigious postage-stamp yearbooks were published: hate mail from stamp collectors and design colleagues started to come in. But there was also fan mail.

“The books polarised the design community. They won all the awards and a Best Book Award, my first one. In the jury report they mentioned ‘a brilliant failure’. Suddenly people knew who I was. I realised negative publicity has an enormous impact, more than positive publicity.” — Irma Boom, 2014 [Eye no. 88 vol. 22]

Jean van Royen’s early adherence to typographic and design excellence set a standard for the PTT for years to come. In the early 1930s, he commissioned Piet Zwart to transform PTT’s in-house design style. This beautiful chapter in the history of graphic design came to "a brutal conclusion" when van Royen died in 1941 because of his opposition to fascism. Fortunately, van Royen’s design legacy was revived after the war and continues to this day.

Includes work by Piet Zwart, Karl Martens, Studio Dunbar, Tom van den Haspel, Walter Nikkels, Gerrit Noordzij, Anton Beeke, Win Crouwel, Jan van Toorn, Hans Kruit, Willem Sandberg, Cees de Jong, Helen Howard, Victor Levie, Matt van Santvoord, Max Kisman, Reynoud Homan, Rudo Hartman, Rik Comello, Pieter Brattinga, Kees Nieuwenhuijzen, Vincent Mentzel, Charlotte Mutsaers, Henk Cornelissen, Rick Vermeulen, Tessa van der Waals, Kees Ruyter, Arthur Meyer, Frans van Mourik, Jan Bons, Dick Elffers, Johan Lots, Dennis Jaket, Frans van Lieshout, and others whom I’m sure were overlooked.

Irma Boom [b. 1960] is an Amsterdam-based graphic designer specializing in book design. Her use of unfamiliar formats, materials, colors, structures, and typography make her books into visual and tactile experiences.

Boom studied graphic design at the AKI Art Academy in Enschede. After graduating she worked for five years at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office in The Hague. In 1991 she founded Irma Boom Office, which works nationally and internationally in both the cultural and commercial sectors. Clients include the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen (1941-2006), Inside Outside, Museum, Boijmans Van Beuningen, Zumtobel, Ferrari, Vitra International, NAi Publishers, United Nations and OMA/Rem Koolhaas, Koninklijke Tichelaar, and Camper.

Since 1992 Boom has been a critic at Yale University in the US and gives lectures and workshops worldwide. She has been the recipient of many awards for her book designs and was the youngest-ever laureate to receive the prestigious Gutenberg prize for her complete oeuvre. Her design for ‘Weaving as Metaphor’ by American artist Sheila Hicks was awarded 'The Most Beautiful Book in the World’ at the Leipzig Book Fair. Her books have been shown at numerous international exhibitions and are also represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

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