When there were still private companies and individuals needing to record a personal brand name and a logo, people created their own logo that they placed in their books and on objets d’arte.
The story of the ‘bookplate’ is little known to the general public but has a strong appeal among the educated, particularly those who wished to stand out and be accepted as refined. Today we can define those people as the forerunners of the ‘brand and slogan’ used by companies for recognition and to elicit some emotional response from the public.
At the basis, things have not changed, a ‘bookplate’ had to sum up in a drawing and in a few words the life experience of the person who commissioned it – not so different to an Instagram. So it was not used by ‘amorphous’ companies but by real people. Marketers of today were the artists/psychologists of that time. To create one’s own ‘Ex Libris’ meant spending time with an artist telling of your life and passions, so that he could summarize in a sketch and words the essence of your character.
Historically ‘Ex Libris’ (the bookplate ’from the library of’) was born with the printing press and the need of the first libraries to record ownership of their texts by putting some distinctive mark in the first blank page of the books. At first these contained the name and little else, then in parallel with the circulation of books among the middle classes, they evolved to include a design and a motto. The noble coats of arms and the bourgeois ‘bookplate’.
These labels, these ‘bookplates’ were then reproduced with the techniques of woodcut and intaglio initially, and then those of typography, lithography and screen printing. Today any old bookplate is valuable and they are subject of exhibitions and collections.
At one point the use of ‘bookplate’ begin to take on a larger role. No longer relegated to just the front pages of books, they came to ‘settle’ on other things in the room to represent the true lifestyle of those who had originally sought the bookplate.
This is what Marika Lion has done with her brand for La Maison Lion. Marika is a woman of culture and refinement who, for years, worked in the auction houses for contemporary art in various parts of the world. As a result of these experiences, she developed her own original taste and felt the need to create her own ‘Ex Libris’.
The butterfly of La Maison Lion, in a stylized Art Nouveaux format, is designed to represent the elegance and freedom that Marika feels and it was initially created for her small hotel in the Dolomites National Park. Marika began to personally select all objects for the hotel, branding them with this butterfly.
That was the beginning of a story, which now develops and becomes a design concept in the business of fashion and lifestyle. First there are a jewelry collection and a number of “pocket” bags inspired by modern art, with the colours of the avant-garde, that will be presented this autumn in an important museum.
But this is just the beginning of a project of creating brands for modern and contemporary art; a butterfly that can fly around the earth and that seeks manufacturing partnerships to realise licensees for original products.