From 4 November 1946 until the middle of October 1963 graphic designer Jan Boterman (b. 1944) lived with his father, mother and two brothers in a flat on the third floor of Zocherstraat 27 in Amsterdam. He has created a wonderful book about the house that looks at first sight highly matter-of-fact and neutral, but which in its contents and tone is actually highly personal. It is a simple, white, almost square, neatly modernistic work with numerous photographs and memories. Writing of his project Boterman says: ‘I give a brief account of the history of the Zocherstraat. I explain when the house was built, how it was laid out, and who designed it. … All the old local shops (over thirty of them) in and near the Zocherstraat are identified in an overview. … I also recall memories of our family life there, the people downstairs, and the games we played in the street and in the Vondelpark round the corner.’
The intimate subjectivity of Boterman’s recollections contrasts nicely with the way he has designed them. The typography of the text is firmly restrained and the pictorial matter is positioned in a manner reminiscent of historical works or archives: plans of the flat, sequences of black and white photographs of features of the street, and of the members of the family. All of this is printed on thick writing paper (Conqueror velvet).
On this little gem the panel were unanimous: the subject is described and pictured with so much tenderness, attention and individuality that it far transcends the particular goal of passing family history down to the grandchildren. Vernacular anthropology becomes biographical literature in its finest form.