Roger Willems, Roma Publications

Roger Willems is a graphic designer and the man behind Roma Books who are known for their elegant and well produced art books, including photobooks. Dana Lixenberg's Imperial Courts, which recently won the Deutsche Börse Prize, was a Roma publication, as was Batia Suter's Parallel Encyclopedia. 

Roma-books

Willems explains that he was initially attracted to the design of old museum catalogues, like those made by Willem Sandberg of the Stedelijk Museum in the 1950s (who is currently the subject of an exhibition at the De La Warr Pavilion). Unusually, Sandberg, as well as being the Designer in Chief, was also the Director of the Museum so no one could tell him what to do. Willems says that his ideal job had been to work for a museum but he subsequently found that in museums design had become a function of the public relations of the institution and that he was more interested in working more closely with artists and without intervening layers of bureaucracy.

 

Various exhibition catalogues created by Sandberg for the Stedelijk Museum, on display at the De La Warr Pavilion. Photography by Nigel Green

He also talked about the joys and discomforts of being in charge of his own output, in particular the misunderstandings and expectations around money, where success can cause as much difficulty as failure.

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