Designer Collector: The Letter 'M'
Monique Gamache, Design Director & Founder at Matter, shares her typographical collection of the letter 'M'.
What do you collect?
I am obsessed with collecting the letter M. I collect Ms of any shape, size, colour or material. I even collect W's turned upside-down; those are some of my favourites. The majority of Ms in my collection were given to me as gifts from friends, family and co-workers, giving each one of them a special meaning. Currently I have sixteen Ms and I plan to add to that number in the future.
Growing up, my mother (Florence) had a collection of Fs that I absolutely loved. She adorned her clothing with the letter F; she wore Fs as broaches, stitched them on sweaters or wore them as charms hanging on the end of her zippers. It was the 70s. I think she was inspired by Laverne & Shirley and their fabulously monogrammed shirts! It was she who gave me my very first M — a special gift for a family portrait when I was a kid. It was a gold scripted capital M Avon broach, encrusted with cubic zirconia diamonds. Talk about typographic bling! It was in that moment that my love of typography and my collection of Ms was forever sealed.
How does it inspire you as a designer?
I love typography. I love it in all shapes, sizes and formats. I love being surrounded by Ms because they inspire me to see the beauty in the simplest of things; they are both a reminder of the past and the creative potential of the future. They can be strong, or they can be soft. M is the start of most of my favourite words: minimal, marvellous, meticulous, my name (Monique, which I like when pronounced in the proper French way) and my company, Matter, which was created out of a purpose to build brands that matter.
My love of Ms started as a child, but now it means much more, as the letter itself structurally creates the foundation for how we start work at Matter. We define each client with four brand words that are represented by the four pillars of the M: Personality, Tone, Vibe and a word that is opposite of who they are. These four brand words define the work we do regardless of how big or small the project is. They are a constant reminder to stay on brand and to continually push the bar forward. Matter’s four words and my mantra for life are obsessive, authentic, uncomfortable and ignored. Words to live by and be inspired by.
My favourite item in my M collection is a small robot. He's made out of recycled mechanical parts and an alphabet building block. I found him at a farmers' market in Stratford, Ontario while visiting my brother-in-law, where Triple R Robots had a section set up with their fabulous robot creations. It took me a while to find the M robot in the mess of alphabet block robots, but there he was there waiting for me.
An item you aspire to have in your collection?
Oh, I know the answer to this right away. I aspire to have a neon M in my collection! I imagine that it will be hot pink and resemble the exact shape of the pin that my mother gave me. It will be enormous and I'll hang it on the wall in my office at home.
It will remind me of my mother and all the lessons she imparted to me: strength, independence, resilience, hard work and a love for collections. Especially the letter M. Illuminated in bright neon pink!
Monique's ability to distil complex companies and organizations into simple and powerful brand platforms has gained her international renown. Monique’s work has been recognized by the One Show and the Type Directors Club, earning her among other awards a Cannes Silver Lion and a coveted D&AD Black Pencil.
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