Introducing the Matchbox: what's in a name?


So people who build tiny houses do this thing where they name their tiny houses. Like a boat. Or a horse. Probably more like a boat. The name makes the house more than a house: it makes it a home. It gives it an identity. In the world of tiny homes, it's kinda-sorta a big-to-mid-size-type of deal.

So naturally, I spent the better portion of my early spring agonizing over this decision: what to call the thing that I'd be investing so much time, money, and energy into over these next few months and years. I spent days rereading favorite novels and poems, hoping to find a key phrase or word that met the impossible expectations of (a) having some deep personal significance, (b) describing or at least relating to the notion of a tiny home, (c) being phonetic and not too much of a mouthful to say, and (d) remaining unique amongst the many tiny homes already named. After some time, I realized I wasn't making worthwhile progress in my brainstorming, and thus took a break from tiny home naming to focus on tiny home brandingthat is, developing a logo or graphic to use in some yet-undetermined way, to give the yet-unbuilt home a visual presence.

Enter Photoshop, a glass of wine, and a rather unimaginative mind.

I began with a box. My house, after all, would be a box: four walls and a flat roof and, oh, a front door, so I added that too.

I examined the figure I had drawn and determined that yes, it portrayed small-and-simple, but no, it was still missing the essence of a tiny house, something that would make it clear that this was not just a white rectangle with a smaller blue rectangle crammed inside, but an accurate depiction of what my home would look like to a visitor approaching it for the first time.

It needed something else. It needed wheels.

So I gave it wheels. Not particularly elegant or realistic wheels, but a pair of donutesque shapes, profiled, and an axle connecting them. And now the box was no longer a box, but an unmistakable tiny home on a trailer.
Progress, indeed, was being made, but this house-on-wheels still didn't look like something one would want to live in. It needed something to communicate its
purpose, its raison d'ĂȘtre, its aim of being a self-sustaining environment, a natural habitat. It needed attention drawn to its roof: a roof that could, once built, support herbs and vegetables and a rain catchment system that will keep them watered and a set of solar panels to power the structure below.

Unsure of how to best express all that, I drew a thin bar atop the home, signifying, I suppose, a solar panel or just a general presence above what would ordinarily be considered a house's ceiling. But this bland bar didn't do enough to emphasize the roof's vitality, so I curiously added a single leaf to the design to see how it would fare. 

I spent a few seconds pushing that leaf back and forth, centering it and dropping it and raising it and otherwise looking for a place where it spatially just fit and then, as it approached the panel's far left corner, I thought: hey, that looks like a match. And, oh wait, it's a match resting above a box.

And that, I'm quite embarrassed to admit, is how the Matchbox came to be named the Matchbox after three months of deliberate soul-searching for that oh-so-perfect name. The Matchbox may not be the most deeply meaningful of names (tiny-home-name-criterion-a), but I suppose it makes up for its simplicity in, well, its simplicity: it certainly describes a tiny home (tiny-home-name-criterion-b), it is an easy-to-spell-easy-to-pronounce alternative to other options I had considered (tiny-home-name-criterion-c), and it is, to my knowledge, a name not yet bestowed upon any other publicized tiny house (tiny-home-name-criterion-d). It will do.

Armed with a freshly-conceptualized name, I plastered that sucker onto the nearly-complete Matchbox logo, but I still felt I was missing the touch of friendliness, of warmth, that I so desired in the home's monochromatic rendering. Something was still absent ...

... the porch light!

Reasons for the porch light adopting a heart shape are unclear, but it seemed like a cute, fun idea at the time, one which would express even more warmth than the already-warm-and-welcoming standard porch light (incidentally, I've grown so accustomed and fond of that little heart that I've decided to construct a heart-shaped porch light for the real, physical, non-graphic version of the Matchbox). And with that final addition, my time home logo was complete!

Having spent the better part of an evening drawing hearts and rounded rectangles and panels-and-leaves-that-become-matches-and-flames, I decided to put this new logo to some use and order a set of contact cards for when I'm chatting with tiny home enthusiasts interested in following my progress, sharing resources, or helping with the build. I ordered the cards from MOO, a really cool company that prints absolutely fabulous-quality business cards, and was really satisfied with the result:

So, name, logo: like it, hate it? What do you think?


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  2. What I like about the name is that it represents something that (for now at least) technology has not made obsolete. There will come a day, I am sure, when people won't know what a matchbox is, but for now it's still a familiar, essential object of the simple life.

  3. Excellent start! Keep posting! Especially on design/process/fabrication. I love this stuff and am actually in the midst of designing a cabin for a friend's plot of land in Nova Scotia. On a side referring to a previous post I'd like to thank you for sharing this image, which is an incredibly simple and beautiful design:

    A wonderful source for inspiration. Good luck, and keep up with the blog! It's already been 3 weeks since your last post!

    1. Thanks! I wish I had the credits for that photo; alas, it was one I clipped before I thought about putting together a blog.

      Really cool to hear about your Nova Scotia cabin-designing; I'd love to see it when it's done (or at any point along the process)!

      And thank you for the push to actually sit down for a few minutes and put out another post; you're right, one was way overdue. But now here it is!:


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