Kummer & Herrman: Designing Your Story

Saturday and Sunday, May 18 - 19, 2019
11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m., both days

Aperture Foundation
547 West 27th Street, 4th Floor
New York, NY 10001

In a two-day weekend workshop, participants joined Jeroen Kummer of the internationally acclaimed Dutch design firm Kummer & Herrman to learn different techniques of designing a photo book. The workshop began with Kummer sharing examples of K&H books and exhibition design projects, including Weegee: Murder Is My Business at the Fotomuseum in Antwerp and The Sochi Project, which was copublished by Aperture in 2013. Kummer then kicked off a discussion by opening up a question to the group: “What does a designer actually do?” He began by answering, “getting under the skin of what actually needs to be told,” and with this question in mind, participants began showing and discussing the work they hoped to make into a photobook.

Kummer provided meaningful feedback to participants’ questions and concerns as they shared their photographs and intentions with the group. Kummer provided a framework for these critiques with a quote from an interview he took part in for an issue of Aperture’s PhotoBook Review, “Trust is a key factor and liberating to the creative process. You should be able to leave your comfort zone but also enter a new one together.” The participants then worked individually to identify the urge that encouraged them to begin making the work, the purpose of putting the work into the world, and the intended audience, which he called the public. They spent time individually sequencing, editing, and thinking about the way that their images should be presented.

On Sunday, each participant was asked to come in with a book that they are inspired by. Kummer laid out several books that K&H has designed, as well as a selection from Aperture’s library that he felt exemplified certain aspects of design. Each participant picked out books from the table based on these aspects of design, such as the book cover, typography, paper type, and binding. Kummer spent some time discussing the importance of every detail that goes into making a book. After lunch, participants continued to work on the projects they brought in and Kummer spent time with each person, giving them valuable feedback regarding the sequence, edit, and design of their book dummies. At the end of the workshop, the participants came together and reflected on the weekend’s helpful critiques and the wealth of knowledge that was shared by Kummer.

Kummer & Herrman (K&H) was founded in 1998 by Jeroen Kummer and Arthur Herrman. While their roots stem from the renowned Dutch tradition of graphic design for print, K&H has since grown into a multidisciplinary creative office that develops publications, exhibitions, visual identities, and campaigns over a wide range of media. Over the years K&H has built long-standing collaborations with individuals and organizations operating within the field of photography, leading to an internationally acclaimed portfolio of designs for photobooks, including Raphaël Dallaporta, Antipersonnel (Éditions Xavier Barral, 2011); Robert Knoth and Antoinette de Jong, Poppy: Trails of Afghan Heroin (Hatje Cantz, 2012); Rob Hornstra and Arnold van Bruggen, The Sochi Project: An Atlas of War and Tourism in the Caucasus (Aperture, 2014); Martin Parr, We Love Britain! (Schirmer/Mosel, 2014); and Vasantha Yogananthan, A Myth of Two Souls (Chose Commune, 2016–19). In 2014, Kummer & Herrman won the prestigious Dutch Design Award.

Jeroen Kummer was born in Amsterdam in 1969. He is cofounder, designer, and creative director of K&H. In addition to his work at K&H, he currently teaches graphic design and storytelling at the Photography Department of the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague.




Sign up for Aperture's weekly newsletter: