Irma Boom Office, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 2003


Marakele is my second book on wildlife in South Africa. The first one was about the buffalo that are native to Marakele Park. For that project, the client invited me to visit South Africa two years before I would begin design, so that I could see the place where all of the photos were being taken and get a feel for the landscape and all that lived there. Suddenly, the book and the animals were no longer abstractions: they literally came to life.

So when I was asked to design the Marakele book, I already had some experience with the matter. For Marakele, I had three different photographers sending me tons and tons of material over the course of two full years. As the material piled up, I was completely free to come up with any design I liked. However, because I had so much material coming in, I was also forced to find some organization for the images. Finally, I created folders with titles like “To Watch,” “To Eat,” and “To Move.” This visual system worked so well that I decided to use it as the concept for the entire book—thus creating the effect, more or less, of a day in the (wild)life, from morning until evening.

There is a very important environmental angle to this story, as Marakele is ultimately a book about how the South African government teamed up with public and private investors to preserve one of the most important national parks in South Africa, which until very recently had fallen into terrible, almost irreversible disrepair. The goal of the park’s management is to bring the landscape and wildlife back to its natural state of balance, much as it would have existed one hundred years ago. The park’s plan is not only good for the animals, but also for the people who live in the vicinity: with the money raised by the sale of this book, as well as other private fundraising, Marakele Park is hiring local people to work in and around the park. Along with the park improvements, homes and schools are also being rebuilt and the children in the area are getting bicycles so that they can attend the new schools. Next, tourism should begin to flourish, creating its own economy.

Marakele is a book for people of all ages and nationalities who are interested in wildlife, who would like to know what it feels like to spend time in the bush.

Juror Notes

“A design safari. Video couldn’t do better.” Lars Müller

“The design, in its simplicity, can be appreciated by both children and adults.” Jack Woody

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2003
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book


Design firm
Irma Boom Office
Creative director
Irma Boom
Art director
Irma Boom
Irma Boom
Jacket designer
Irma Boom
Louise Agnew, Andy Rouse, Paul Van Vlissingen, Tet Van Vlissingen
Production director
Irma Boom
Picture editor
Irma Boom
Paul Van Vlissingen
Irma Boom, Paul Van Vlissingen
African Parks
Trim size
7 x 8.5”
Quantity printed
Courier Sans
Rosbeek, Nuth
Jacket printers
Rosbeek, Nuth
Munkendahl Munke print 115 g/m2
Hexspoor, Boxtelk
Book type
Image driven