A matchbox full of past

A matchbox full of past

Jiri Kubik and Jan Rambousek have selected matchbox labels from the fifties and seventies and have put six hundred of their collection of tens of thousands of Czechoslovak labels into a volume. The publication, which is unique in its content and design, received the Red Dot Award in 2022. Introducing Czechoslovakian.ink!

Jiri Kubik and Jan Rambousek have been working in the creative industry for two decades. But they decided to break away from the day-to-day work with clients to create something inspiring and fulfilling. “About 2 years ago we went to our cottage by the lake for a barbecue and Jiri brought over his first set of matchbox labels, which he won in an auction. There were some really nice ones from the Prague Zoo collection, and we completely fell in love with them. After we came back to our studio, we started digging more into the history of labels. We knew that the Czech Solo Sušice factory was well known as the biggest producer of matches worldwide, but we are too young to remember all the designs. We started buying more and more collections without any specific goal and ended up with over 30,000 items. So we just said: this deserves a book, and that was it,” Jan shared.

He added that he was also impressed by the carefully designed graphics on each label and the number of different samples produced. As Jan pointed out, the content and message of many of the matchstick labels may seem funny today, but many of them are more relevant than ever. “The messages conveyed by matchboxes basically covered all aspects of daily life back then. There were a lot of illustrations of education, precaution, anniversaries, health advice, diet recommendations, and very often many completely unimportant topics. Visually, the designs often used 2–5 bright and vivid colors and a simple, minimalist design, dictated by the size of the medium itself and the printing technique of the period,” he elaborated. And the most popular designs for the labels were the aforementioned graphics of the Prague Zoo or the topic of daily hygiene. These were designed by Vilibald Weinzettl, one of the time’s leading Czech artists and illustrators.

Another special feature of Czechoslovakian.ink is that the publication authentically evokes a large matchbox. “We found a roll of 50-year-old paper in my parents’ garage and printed the cover label design on it with letterpress printing technique. We wanted to pay homage to the era and medium,” Jan highlighted.

As we have learned from the creators, a second volume is in the pipeline, this time dedicated to Czechoslovak packaging design. The new publication is expected to debut in late 2023. In the meantime, you can purchase your Czechoslovakian.ink volume on their website.

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