Celebrating mass-produced, frugal, aesthetic design from india

Maachis ka Dibba

-Maachis ka dabba

Many of us found the nuggets of wisdom written behind, the AIM matchboxes and which enthralled us to look out for the time when we shall get to see another matchbox.
A matchbox’s packaging, the varieties of the colors and its sheer choice of symbolism makes its one of the most sought after product for various collectors. Infact, the hobby of collecting matchboxes is called phillumeny.

What is a Maachis ka dibba?

This is a hindi name for simply a Matchbox. And the popular local term is ‘maachis ki dibiya ‘.

What are the materials?

A matchbox is a box made of cardboard or thin wood designed to hold matches. It usually has a coarse striking surface on one edge for lighting the matches contained inside.

  • Production:

Wooden match production in India is split into three sectoral categories:

  1. The mechanized large-scale sector
  2. the handmade small-scale sector
  3. and the cottage sector.

82% of total match production is in the handmade small-scale (67%) and cottage (15%) sectors, where technology has remained relatively simple.

These two non-mechanized sectors of the match industry are distinguished primarily by output size. Officially, the cottage industry in match making is defined as any manual production unit producing less than 75,000 cases of match boxes per year.

  • The packaging:

Design analysis:

A brief study across various matchbox covers reveals a preference for yellow and red and green over others. The ability of these colors to grab attention makes them the primary choice.

The centre stage is usually taken by a variety of symbols and imagery raging from an animal image, fruits, vegetables, household and daily use objects, people etc.

  • The cost:

The cost of a match box ranges from 50 p to 1.00 rupees, making it one of the most affordable utility products to own.

  • The bulk packaging:

Usually a set of 50 -100 matchboxes are packed together in a paper packaging for ease of transfer.

  • The matchbox materials

A matchbox is made of various materials like the softwood or card boxes.

  • Availability

A matchbox can be found in any shop in India and specially the roadside tea and paan shops.

  • The industry:

Tamil Nadu accounts for 85 % of the 2000 crore matchbox industry.

The industry currently faces the problem of high prices of raw materials  and lowering of demands in the domestic market due to availability of gas stoves , electric heaters etc.

Thus, the industry has decided to bring down the number of sticks packed inside a matchbox to 50 from 70, since customers are not willing to pay the additional cost.

They are also looking at various ways to expand into newer markets through exports.

Why it is design mela is featured product?

Though, a matchbox is a product available in all countries, but matchboxes tell a story of the unique to each country.

The choice of its imagery narrates the lifestyle and choices of people.

To top it all it’s a mass consumed object and is totally frugal in nature, thus making it a design mela featured product.

For further reading and references drawn:





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