Keap + Object_ify 139 Matchbox Set

Inspired by early 20th century Japanese labels, it's small-scale functional art

Brooklyn-based studio Keap, the B Corp making affordable scented candles, is dabbling in a new candle-related side project: handmade matchboxes inspired by vintage Japanese labels from the 1920s to 1940s. Made in collaboration with Lower East Side art store Object_ify 139, each box is silk-screened with Keap art director’s Dan Abary drawings then hand-assembled. As a set, the five different matchboxes read out the very applicable Japanese proverb, “It is useful to first see the spark before the fire.”

“Both my father and Dan’s parents used to collect matchboxes from around the world actually—childhood memories,” says Keap co-founder Harry Doull. He and Object_ify 139’s Maria Candanoza had been friends for a few years, and after Keap posted a photo of some fun experiments in making handmade matchboxes, she reached out to take their idea to the next level. It’s a collaboration that makes sense, as Object_ify 139 is becoming a go-to place for discovering unique, affordable, limited edition art objects and the emerging artists who make them. The anti-gallery’s current stock includes stapled zines starting at $3, sedimented sherbet rocks, and couture-like purses from the future. Overall, Candanoza uses the store as a way to tell both artists and audiences that art doesn’t have to expensive or functionless to be meaningful.

Stop by Object_ify 139 (located at 139 Essex St, New York) tonight from 6PM to celebrate the launch; sake will be served. The set of five matchboxes ($28), made in an edition of just 50, will be available in-store and online.

Images courtesy of Keap