Ampersandesign is an Oxford based agency offering print and web orientated brand communication and graphic design. Ampersand Design has over 40 years combined experience.
Good design is good business. Lester Beall

On Identistry Design

If Gonna Be So Simple were a film title, then Famous Last Words would build appetite for the sequel.

For every problem, there’s a solution and probably a simple solution too; it’s just not so easy to find. ’Simple’ refers to the outcome, not the process: the trials, the tribulations, and transformations… These are the loop the loop paths that lead to the finish line of problem solving.

As designers, we enthusiastically set to work on “a great idea, and so simple to produce”. It’s not that we don’t think things through: it’s just that we might not have been on that particular path before, so we don’t anticipate the likely obstacles.

On Identistry Design

The clever part is making what we’ve done look effortless; so effortless, in fact that we start to question what all the fuss was about.

This is how our simple idea – a ripple of a thought for a company Christmas card got swept away by the tide in another direction. Actually, our Christmas card idea was great, till we discovered we couldn’t send matches through Royal Mail. That put a dampener on our flame, but the spark quickly re-ignited at the prospect of creating something more substantial – to include matches – and be sold through our creative outlet, Designstore.

We were on to something here. Our idea ticked all the boxes:

We started to feel the postal service had done us a favour, signposting more interesting directions to take our creativity. Now our design process was in full swing with research, enquiries, drawings and promising product trials forging the way. We concluded that our idea would be effective and – yes, I believe we also used the phrase – “so simple”.

We were going to design and manufacture a series of beech and copper candleholders with letterpress detail, packaged in sets of three together with a coordinating box of matches.

The key to our design and also the packaging solution was the millimetric precision required for the wood, carton material and even the branded stickers that nestle in the base of each holder. All the materials we acquired underwent rigorous quality control, as we scrutinised them for flaws in geometry
and finish.

Our studio cum lab window sills groaned under the weight of test samples. A weekend spent in Yorkshire became an opportunity to scour Halifax’s haberdashery shops for elusive brown knicker elastic. With copper eyelets, candle fittings and die-cut match strike pads ordered from across the pond, we set to work on fabrication and assembly – production line fashion.

With more wood than there are remnants of the True Cross, we can say we’re looking forward to finding loving homes for our handiwork, now all neatly packaged and awaiting first orders. And if the idea of buying something that’s beautifully simple, handcrafted by its designer-makers appeals to you, head to our store at and be assured there will definitely be more to follow.

Shireen Dew
20th October 2016