It all started with the basement. My uncle's basement in France. It was there, beneath his old mansion at rue de la Victoire where he made books with artists. Ever since I was a kid, I looked forward to the weekend trips from my native Holland to Metz in Lorraine. While the grownups where having coffee, I couldn't wait to rush down the winding steps and enter the basement where his huge offset printing press was. The overpowering smell of ink, paper and glue, so full of promise. I just loved it. It was my domain for a short instant, where I could leaf through the mess of printed sheets of his new art book projects. It is there that my uncle Richard Meier showed me how to bind books yourself, how to fold the pages, how to calculate which page goes where in the handmade books. It was wonderful to see him work with love, humor and respect for The Book. Looking back, it is there that I got possessed with creativity on paper.
Many years later, my uncle suggested we do a project together. It better be a small project, I joked, since I was in the middle of the hustle and bustle of my own career. Right there and then my uncle came up with the idea of handmade books in matchboxes. The match would symbolize the true creative spark. We also chose to maximize artistic freedom for all participants. No limits, for once. We decided our mission would be to pass on beauty. Thanks to the many many years of experience in book making of my uncle, we quickly innovated the matchbox to a MatchBoox. He suggested a very ancient form of book binding, in a harmonica shape, called Leporello. We then embossed our logo by hand in the paper and put this Leporello book in a timeless matchbox cover. Hence, the MatchBoox were born.
I started off with a small collection, inviting both famous and emerging artists, writers and media personalities in Amsterdam to make a very special book with absolute artistic freedom. Once the MatchBoox where exhibited in the museum of Modern Art in the ancient city of Nîmes in the French Provence, MatchBoox was picked up by the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris and the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Strasbourg.
After an exhibition in the hip and happening art gallery Ton de Boer in Amsterdam, MatchBoox started to draw a crowd and the Dutch press went raving. Quite honestly, I was surprised myself that my passion for handmade books was picked up so fast by television, newspapers, glossy magazines and fashion monthlies alike. Soon bookstores and galleries started to ask me for more and more MatchBoox. Now I am able to share my passion for unique books with many people, passing on beauty with every little book in a matchbox. I still invest in artistic freedom. I still make the books by hand. And I still love that smell of ink and paper in the morning. Do you have a great idea or special project? Please contact me by asking a question or call +31624515420. I look forward hearing from you.
Emmanuel van Leeuwe