The Bitcoin, see website here.
It looks obvious, only after you have seen it.
Is this is true about any good design? It is what I thought when Irma Boom delighted the audience of Typo London 2012 by displaying her work. Delight is the correct word: her speech went on for an hour and forty minutes, far over the limit –a habit of hers, apparently. Throughout this time the audience was holding breath, as a child in the excitement of being given icecream.
Any of her books is this simple complex beautiful thing. They just feel right, though you might not understand them at times. I believe her work is perceived as so consistent because she would accept to work on a book only on condition that she is free to make it her way. To follow one single brain’s intention is a way to guarantee that each part of the system makes sense in a certain perspective; exactly as in storytelling we need to trust the narrator and be sure that everything is coherent in the system he is setting up. It also means that Irma inevitably shall put a lot of herself in the book. She does not hide it, although slipping into her discourse how shy she used to be at the beginning.
She flips through the pages, one by one, up and down the book again and again as she tells the why and how of them. I did not understand why she keeps her eyes shut towards the audience, only opening them while looking at the pages: perhaps to concentrate. I felt moved as she was doing so. Her turning the pages was very passionate and familiar, showing her physical connection to her work. All the books looked like used books because she uses them for their purpose. I also say: how sad must be those books that are condemned to be on a shelf their whole life through! As in Toy Story, where the worst fear for a toy is never to be played with.
First Irma showed a book which she had printed on very thin, non-precious paper. I do not remember how it was called, but it was an annual art publication without images I think, pages full of text alternating with plain colour ones. In any case, one of those books which require ‘respectable’ paper. Of course she made it beautiful and you should look it up. What I especially loved and agreed about it was to see how the quality of paper does not undermine the dignity of a book. A statement that books are printed on any paper and that they will always be faulty as media, unless you think of them as meaningful objects themselves. I am not sure I expressed myself.
At this point of the talk I thought of poetry, I got lost and left some empty space in my little note book. Irma’s talk was about poetry, in my opinion, just as much as the one by Ken Garland.
When finally I caught up with the discourse, Irma was saying that ‘time is the most important thing we have’ - so true! That is why she does not waste it making books she does not like. She was telling a proper, human story, not only showing work as some speakers do. Her narration was a bit confused, not completely chronological, because things kept bringing other more important ones to her mind. Wether she does this on purpose, I do not know, but it works so well.
‘I tell these stories to encourage you to do the same and be fearless’ telling about some rule or request she elegantly ignored. And then again she sounded so reasonable saying ‘If you print something that costs so much money — it should be right!’ She may do what she wants, but she is also demanding much from herself. Then she went on describing how, when she starts working on a book, she first makes a material model, she produces the thing, with real paper and real size. She was really explaining her process, how she felt, what her purpose was: this is quite uncommon.
Many books: one had the cover falling apart, one it is always nice to have a fold-out: it builds a relation with the outside and allows two levels of reading, one she took the client with her to the print shop on the day they were printing, one is fax-era or ‘b.c.’ (before computers), one is after. Each is so different and built on consistent choices. A whole book in her mind, before it is made.
during Typo London 2012.