Herman Kossmann and Mark de Jong have put together a comprehensive, 480-page guide to their work as exhibition architects, illustrating the design principles of their firm, Kossmann.dejong, with oversize full-color photos by Thijs Wolzak and diagrams that explain their ambitions. Engaging Spaces highlights 30 out of the 90 exhibitions that the firm produced between its founding in 1998 and 2010, bookended with commentary by Suzanne Mulder as an introduction and a full chapter of exhibition plans at the end. These exhibitions range beyond the confines of museum walls, from temporary hotel interiors to floating villages (for the Expo 2000 in Hanover). One stand-out is an semi-permanent exhibition for the Dutch Museum of Psychiatry, within which visitors must actively search for stories by opening cupboards as they follow a non-linear path through a space made up of objects from four nearby wards, allowing them to question the idea of normalcy as they meander through the halls. In the book's forward, the authors state, "We conceive of exhibitions as 'narrative environments': ones in which the designer's task is to translate stories and academic objectives that are often complex into a thought-provoking, spatial narrative." Their practice's focus on creating immersive environments in lieu of banal white-box displays is evident in their recent work for the Urbanian Pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo (see video below), where they created spaces out of thousands of everyday objects, from filing cabinet drawers to milk cartons. • €34.95 ($43); Frame Publishers, 2010


A view of the Urbanian Pavilion: