Opinion by Richard Baird Posted 18 February 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.