Thursday, 12 May 2011

the making of a mon | 紋

Typically, I cringe when a client produces a tear-sheet from across the table during a briefing.
But at a recent creative kick-off, i was presented with a set of interesting Japanese marks which the client had gathered online and was asking me to consider creating something similar for the soon-to-be-launched pilates studio.

Seems that the Japanese were way ahead of the Swiss, mid-century modernist movement in creating clean, graphic symbols. As early as the 12th Century, Japanese heraldic emblems referred to as mon or monshō, had been implemented as a distinguishing feature, especially for use in battle. It is thought that mon originated as fabric patterns to be used on clothes in order to distinguish individuals or signify membership in a specific clan or organisation. The notion of branding was alive and well at the high point of Japanese culture during the much-admired Heian period.

There are no set rules in the design of a mon. It most commonly consists of a roundel encircling a figure of plant, animal, man-made, natural or celestial objects, all abstracted to various degrees.

Originally leaning towards Flower Pilates as a nod to the founder's Lafleur surname – yes, yes, it's all in the family – I thought the mon-inspired direction rather appropriate and started playing with simple, reduced shapes to convey the core principles of pilates; flow, precision, control and centering. Combined with the distinguishing sharp elements and angular finishing strokes of Anivers and printed on a natural, cream-coloured Munken Pure paperstock, the identity blossoms.

Ultimately, the name was changed to Paris Pilates to enable search-engine optimisation and to accommodate the L'Académie Française (well not quite), yet the symbol still resonates in the founder's surname and brand attributes, so I didn't insist on an alternative symbol (although of course I did give it a try) – she had her mon and wasn't letting go.


  1. like the successful interplay between cultures.

  2. Andrea Lafleur14 May 2011 at 00:42

    Domo arigato gosaimasu, Heather-chan

  3. キ よろこ.ぶ よろこ.ばす, andrea-san

  4. すてきな紋です!
    omedetou andrea (&heather on a beatiful mon)