Boom was born in Lochem, Gelderland, the Netherlands, and attended the AKI Art Academy in Enschede, where she studied graphic design. Boom worked at the Dutch Government Publishing and Printing Office in The Hague for five years before she founded her Amsterdam studio in 1991, Irma Boom Office. Boom works both nationally and internationally in the cultural and commercial sectors, and some of her clients include the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Paul Fentener van Vlissingen, Inside Outside, Museum Boijmans, Zumtobel, Ferrari, Vitra International, NAi Publishers, and Camper.
Since 1992 Boom has been a critic at Yale University in the USA. She has lectured and given workshops worldwide. Boom has been the recipient of many awards for her book designs. One thing Irma is well known for is being the youngest-ever who has been honored with an award for outstanding achievement with a Gutenberg prize for her work as a painter, composer, and artist.
Boom has worked on her 2136 page SHV Think Book as editor and designer for five years. Research for this book took place in cities like Amsterdam, Paris, London, and Vienna. This anniversary book was one of her biggest works and showed a specific view on the history of her company. It was designed to be distributed around the world. However, it's pace of distribution is very slow. Boom has calculated that it will take five hundred years to spread to all the places in the world. Four thousand copies were printed in English and five hundred in Chinese. Her think book has become an international icon of Dutch design. Her design for ‘Weaving as Metaphor’ by the 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.
Boom introduced the idea of a "fat book", and when asked what would make her create a book that was two inches tall and half as thick, she replied: “The book is small because whenever I make a book, I start by making a tiny one. Usually I make five, six or seven for each book, as filters for my ideas and to help me to see the structure clearly. I have hundreds of those small books and am so fond of them. I’ve always wanted to make one for publication, but no one has ever wanted to do it. And I thought, well, this time, I can.” The book contains 704 pages and 450 images. She titled the book "Irma Boom: Biography in Books." The New York Times wrote an article called "A Small Book in a Big Career," published on August 8, 2010, based on Irma Boom. This book only ran for about two months at the University of Amsterdam Library.
Boom has made over 250 books, 50 of which are in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Boom, at age 49, has designed most of her books for other people the way she has wanted, and is often given absolute freedom in her designs. Boom designed a book titled "Beautiful Ugly" by Sarah Nuttall. Nuttall stated: "the book was designed in Amsterdam by Irma Boom, and I thank her for her extraordinary eye and prodigious talent for making books beautiful." The cover to this book was an olive-green color with no pictures or text.
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- Beautiful ugly - Sarah Nuttall - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2011-11-15.
- Eye, No. 13, Vol. 4, edited by Rick Poynor, Emap Architecture, Summer 1994.
- Print; Aug 2011, Vol. 65 Issue 4, p 18-18, 1p
- De best verzorgde boeken = The best Dutch book designs, 1989–...
- Irma Boom / Text Irma Boom; Konzept und Gestaltung Kristina Brusa; hrsg. von Julia Blume und Günter Karl Bose; Übers. Alpha-Sprachen, Leipzig; Wordworkers, Amsterdam. Leipzig 2002. Gutenberg-Galaxie, 2.
- New book design / comp. and ed. by Roger Fawcett-Tang; introd. and interviews by Caroline Roberts. London 2004. ISBN 185669366X
- Ontwerper & opdrachtgever: Harry N. Sierman & Querido, Reynoud Homan & Wim Quist, Irma Boom & Paul Fentener van Vlissingen / comp. by Mathieu Lommen. Amsterdam, 2005. PDF
- Irma Boom: Biography in books: books in reverse chronological order, 2010-1986, with comments here and there / book concept Irma Boom; text Mathieu Lommen, Irma Boom; design Irma Boom, Sonja Haller. Amsterdam 2010. (A miniature book.) ISBN 9789490895013.