Match Books (L) TIBOR KALMAN’S DESIGN for “Restaurant Florent” and (R) DAMIAN HIRST’s DESIGN FOR “PHARMACY” in LONDON
Great excerpt from a blog post from DEMIAN REPUCCI dated Oct 2009
“restaurant matchbooks …..are an extension of the restaurants’ brand and a telling exercise in the use of its’ graphic identity“
….I was thinking about the whole ‘matches -in-restaurants’ thing. Of course they were originally there for the convenience of the smokers at the bar, waiting for a table or enjoying an after dinner drink. Which then served a dual purpose of being a convenient way for those diners to go home with a little branded reminder of the restaurant in their pocket. Now that smoking has been all but wiped from the face of the Earth, it seems that restaurant match books should have disappeared too. But they remain. Why would a restaurant continue to pay more for a vehicle for its logo and information when a business card can do the same thing for less? There are usually a stack of business cards available at a restaurants’ front desk. Do those fly out the door? Probably not or we would be reading an article about restaurant business cards.
I think restauranteurs understand the psychological [and visual impact] …… People will take matches to have some connection with …cool. Even if they just end up putting them in a jar…
Of course many people will say that they use them to light candles, birthday cakes, grills, etc. Whatever the excuse, restaurants are happy to fund a diner’s home candle lighting if that means that the restaurant’s brand will continue to be brought back into the diner’s consciousness. Not to mention that a matchbook promises 20 future reminders. Which, come to think of it, may not be a bad deal after all. How many times do you look at a business card on your desk before you throw it away? Once? Twice?
All of this then led me to think about matches as the great little graphic design projects that they can be. Some are very well thought out and beautifully designed. Others are just fun or clever. But either way there are some gems out there. I, myself, have only held onto a few matchbooks which I thought were of superior design quality or somehow captured the concept of the restaurant in a way that I wanted to remember. My two favorites are pictured above. The matchbook on the left is from the famed, and now closed, Restaurant Florent [which was originally located in what is the now upscale Meatpacking District in NYC] -ed. What a great place that was. The restaurant’s graphics, including the matches, were designed by the legendary Tibor Kalman and M&Co. Kalman’s graphic design for Florent was brilliant in it’s ability to not only capture the ethos of the restaurant but to also reinforce it. A superb example of restaurant branding.
The matches on the right are from super-star artist Damien Hirst’s brief foray into the restaurant world which was Pharmacy in London. Graphically the blue dots are nice but a bit simple compared to his famous multi-colored dot paintings. What is genius about these matches is that Hirst treats them from the beginning as collector’s items. The other side of this matchbook says “(09) in a series of 60″ on it. The medium that Hirst is most adept at using as an artist is his brand. And he is true to that right down to the little match books in his restaurant. This, of course, makes me look like an idiot as the matchbook is beat up and half the wood matches on the inside have been used. What was I thinking?
Anyway, I love restaurant matchbooks because they are an extension of the restaurants’ brand and a telling exercise in the use of its’ graphic identity. There is something special about a restaurant that invests the time and care to design a beautiful matchbook.
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