The humble matchbox has a long history of being one of the smallest media and advertising platforms around. Ever since the 1920s and 30s, these minute surfaces have been adorned with eye-catching graphics and used as a means of branding and communication, so much so that they have become true collectibles in their own right.
Similarly, the Brooklyn-based candle company Keap has tapped into this tradition by teaming up with the art object boutique Objectify 139 in New York’s Lower East Side on a quintet of their own matchboxes. Inspired by Japanese specimens of the matchbox art tradition, the set features five silk-screened designs exhibited on handmade three-inch matchboxes.
‘Matchboxes are one of the most interesting collectible print formats,’ says Keap co-founder Harry Doull. ‘You see them less nowadays, as they have become almost obsolete, so there's something nostalgic about them that's really appealing to us.’
Realised in a primary palette of colours, each of the boxes is delicately decorated with a different New York City scene that will bring a feeling of calm each time it's admired or used. Each illustration has been created by Keap’s art director Dan Arbary in homage to each of the label’s scented candles. When packaged together in its simple slipcase, the boxes line up like books and spell out the Japanese proverb ‘It is better to see the spark before the fire’, again in ode to the historical origins of the project.
‘In addition to the four colored boxes that loosely reference the fragrances, we made a more monotone fifth box that is simply a tribute to our home city. There's no place like Brooklyn,’ Doull adds. ‘The result is simple, light-hearted and with a tint of nostalgia.’
The set has been issued in an edition of 50, making them just as collectible as their predecessors from long ago. A series of tote bags with matching graphics is also available.