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Anatomy of Design by Mirko Ilic, Steven Heller

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38
ANATOMY OF DESIGN
When is a relatively thick assemblage of bound consecutive pages printed with
type and imagery, which is usually called a book, not really a book? Well, that's
a silly question! It is always a book, though it may not be conventionally so. In
fact, many so-called contemporary books are designed to transcend the
accepted and venerated publication notions, but they are still books. This is how
Irma Boom's book/catalog (also known as a book-object) for the 2000 Storefront
Gallery exhibition of Inside Outside, the studio of progressive Dutch interior and
landscape designer Petra Blaisse, must be viewed. Despite its lack of binding
(like a turtle stripped of its shell), it still looks like a book; its pages turn like a
book, but its construction and conception—its objectness—is as unusual as the
work it is designed to showcase.
Blaisse's aptly named Inside Outside studio is devoted to producing
designs for interiors, gardens, and landscapes, and to the manipulation of
accepted relationships between inside and outside as well as the connections
among interior, architecture, and landscape. Celebrated for introducing movement
into architecture, Blaisse routinely employs dissonant combinations of colors and
forms—reflective surfaces and bright fabrics among them—with uncommon
materials. A conventional book/catalog/object could never hope to capture the
vibrancy and tactility of her work. With that foremost in mind, Boom's bookish
interpretation draws on the same spiritual and physical properties that
constitute Blaisse's more monumental design. In staying true to her precept
that convention is best served and subverted by the unexpected,
Movements is
not merely a printed record but an extension of the design experience that also
retains integrity as a veritable hand-held exhibition.
And what an interactive exhibition it is. Boom's format is a deceivingly
small for a book/catalog/object so jammed with information. Its minimalist
cover, with just a hint of hot-metal typographic kiss embossing, veils the
pyrotechnics inside.
To offset the object's Lilliputian size, Boom uses venerable low-tech
printing effects to give an illusion of multiple layers and myriad dimensions.
One of these tropes is using the paper's tactility to contrast the notion of
Inside from the Outside. When flipping the book (and the book is designed to be
flipped forward and backward), the reader sees Blaisse's interior design on
glossy paper and the word Inside on the page edges. Meanwhile, flipping in the
other direction shows exterior designs on matte paper and the word Outside on
those edges. Through variously sized punched holes and windows revealing
underneath pages,
Movements successfully highlights Blaisse's working
processes as well as snippets of blueprints, materials, and environmental
photographs. Eliminating the traditional division between interior and exterior—
as the title of the studio implies—is the central theme of this work.
As Blaisse draws inspiration from surreal and abstract art, Boom also
digs into the big closet of design for her collection of tricks. Minimalism is
nothing new, but when used to contrast the monumentality of Blaisse's work it
has elegant resonance. As with so many earlier minimalist covers, this seems
to say, “Prepare yourself for a soothing experience”—when, in fact, the interior
ride is anything but.
Movements is a visual record where words are subordinate
to the visceral experience. Those polka-dot holes sprinkled throughout are not
new to this project—and such trickery is becoming more common as books
compete with other media for attention—but they serve as a kind of
parenthetical narrative to the visual pages. Printing words on the page edges in
a reticular fashion also seems to be increasing in popularity; it is a effective
means of conveying multiple ideas, especially in a pictorial volume like this.
With the ironic exception of the spartan cover, this book/catalog/object is
notable for its lavish and intense density—for covering every inch of printed real
estate with design. Like a scrapbook on Blaisse's desk,
Movements is a testament to
how much can fit into a small space and retain a sense of elegance and proportion.
Movements: Introduction to a Working
Process
Designer: Irma Boom
2005 Movements: Introduction to a Working Process, book
d: Irma Boom
Movements: Introduction to a Working Process utilizes one-side coated paper to represent
interior and exterior, and the holes through the pages of the book allow one to peek
inside-out and outside-in.
Embossing, debossing, and varnishing on the covers
Writing on the fore-edge
Holes through the pages

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