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Candlefish designed by Fuzzco, United States

Opinion by Richard Baird.

Marbled shopping bags for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Candlefish is a Charleston, South Carolina, store that stocks a carefully curated collection of scented candles from an assortment of brands including Rewined and Produce, and also plays host to a variety of workshops. The store takes its name from the Eulachon, better known as the Candlefish. After drying, and due to its high oil content, the Candlefish burns much like a candle and is said to have been used to illuminate the dwellings of man and woman as far back as the first century A.D.

Candlefish’s retail space of brick, wood and steel beams, exposed utilities, small spot and larger low-hanging industrial lighting and practical display surfaces that double up as cabinets, secures a current and worn urban utility that offers contrast to the crafted nature of the products.

This space is given shots of bright red throughout, enhanced by panels of white paint, is complemented by vintage lounge chairs, and given character through a brand identity treatment by American design studio Fuzzco. The studio’s illustrative style, approach to print and packaging layers the experience with clear craft cues, a conviviality and a retrospective sensibility based around their naming strategy. The project included logotype, logo and illustration, packaging, signage and bags.

Interior of Charleston based handcrafted scented candle retailer Candlefish

Like many of Fuzzco’s projects there is a rich variety of graphic assets that make up the Candlefish identity, many of which favour a contemporary appropriation and reinterpretation of iconography, illustration and limited colour palettes of the past. There is a confident but cohesive mix of references, from 20th century Americana, subtle elements of Art Deco, vintage enamel profiles and the use of halftone shadows alongside the more recent favour for geometric reduction and monolinear line work and typographical selection. All of which have been rendered and implemented in a way that is sensitive to both past and present.

Illustrated match packaging for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

The colour palette, in many instances limited to one, two or three spot colours, alongside halftone shadows, adds an economical and period quality that feels right for the practical nature of candles and matches, however, as perceived today appears current, consistent and cohesive in its finish. Small illustrative flourishes, tissue papers and a marble detail across the bags, as well as the illustrative tone of the imagery outside of the packaging, introduces a crafted quality alongside the retrospective and utilitarian. There is plenty to look at, plenty of visual texture, and a playful distinction inspired by the unfamiliar but quirky relationship between candles and fish. This dual nature runs throughout, be that through the use of negative space within the logo, literal interpretation (candles stacked on the back of a fish) and the scale-like texture of the packaging.

Illustration for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish Candlefish by Fuzzco

Where a retrospective appreciation and enthusiasm has been frequently disingenuously used, at one point easily considered as a trend, this feels well-founded, drawing a relationship between the long-serving and low-fi nature of candles and a period illustrative approach, distinctive character from the fusion of candles and fish and introducing a crafted value now associated with handmade candles and the workshops Candlefish offers. More from Fuzzco on BP&O.

Design: Fuzzco. Opinion: Richard Baird. Fonts Used: Planeta, Edmondsans & Knockout

Logo for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Illustration for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Logotype for Charleston scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Illustration for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

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Illustrated match packaging for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Illustration for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Illustrated match packaging for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Illustration for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Logo and signage for Charleston handcrafted scented candle store and workshop Candlefish by Fuzzco

Logo and signage for Charleston candle retailer Candlefish by Fuzzco

Marbled shopping bags for Charleston candle retailer Candlefish by Fuzzco

Marbled shopping bags for Charleston candle retailer Candlefish by Fuzzco

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  • Jonny

    I always tend to appreciate projects like this that look to establish a rich visual language through many different graphic assets over ones that are logo-centric. The use of colour and fish/flame icon are highlights for me, although i think the marbled pattern could’ve been applied more strategically as the brand struggles to stay readable when overlaid in some of the examples shown.

    • Butchy Butch

      But does this approach really works as an identity? In my opinion, no.

      • Jonny

        A flexible brand that has many different assets and means of application doesn’t work as an identity? Surely brands that stick rigidly to putting the logo front and centre become predictable?

    • same here. I love the mixture of styles in both the illustrations and the typography, but the marbled textures are just odd…

      • I believe that there are marble surfaces across the display cabinets and within the external signage so there is an element of consistency there, it’s just difficult to pick out and I didn’t make point of making the connection in the review. Would that change your mind in any way?

        • I still like the identity, but I’m pretty sure it would also work without the use of another element. the marbled pattern, — which possibly comes from abstract candle wax texture — is IMO not necessary to make this brand stick out 🙂

  • Gilbert

    Nice. I like the fact they resisted doing something with the i in candlefish.