A Life in Matches: Detail

Work / Miscellaneous

Miscellaneous: Ben Stott photographs one grandfather’s matchbox collection

It’s interesting to see the different ways people choose to document their lives. J. Alfred Prufrock measured out his with coffee spoons, hoarders love to read back through old diaries, this man peels the skin off his feet and keeps it in labelled jars (apologies in advance). One day, though, as Justin Bairamian was digging through the boxes and cases in his grandfather’s attic, he stumbled across a suitcase full to the brim with matchbooks; another very charming way to record a life.

His grandfather had kept every matchbook he came across throughout his well-travelled life, and they bore names of hotels and bars from London to Vancouver, Singapore to San Francisco. Many of them have the gentleman’s own scrawling script noting the location and the year on the inside cover too. Aware of the beauty of such a find, Justin kindly allowed designer Ben Stott to capture the matchbooks and post them one day at a time on a blog A Life In Matches.

It’s not just a sweet, sentimental reminder of one man’s brilliant life either; the matchbooks double as a testament to the progression of graphic design, across the years and around the world, with many bearing logos only marginally different from those which adorn the pages of magazines today. The resulting catalogue is a wonderful tribute to both one man’s brilliant life and to the way branding has evolved. Beware of the hours to be lost scrolling through.


A Life in Matches: Populist


A Life in Matches: Marineland Restaurant


A Life in Matches: Porpoise Room


A Life in Matches: Drummer Man


A Life in Matches: Golf Course


A Life in Matches: Everything Under the Sun


A Life in Matches: Hotel Vancouver


A Life in Matches: Martini