The souvenir shop of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York may be the most successful case of commercial operations in the museum art derivatives market. For example, the Sky Umbrella, seemingly just a black umbrella, opens to reveal a brilliant blue sky. Since it was designed in 1992, the Sky Umbrella has always been an iconic product of the MoMA’s souvenir shop.
As you can see, art galleries, museums, city landmarks and even amusement parks offer visitors souvenirs with their own elements such as basic objects like dolls and practical objects like umbrellas. But not all the souvenirs have the successful and practical significance as MoMA’s souvenirs do. Many souvenirs that have unique characteristics or characteristics of the selling institutions will often be regarded as furnishings after they were bought. The essence of souvenirs has blurred the boundaries of artwork and commodities, but S.POINT believes, “Good products burst with vitality only when they are being used by people.”
This is also one of the reasons why the Shanghai Tower finally chose S.POINT to design its souvenirs. The Shanghai Tower is currently Shanghai’s tallest building, connected with the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Jinmao Tower.
And souvenir design is often faced with another challenge, the product itself being overridden by “cultural” or “symbolic” elements. In order to conform to a cultural symbol, souvenirs may lose their practicality and functionality. Culture comes from life, and souvenirs, as products, should also play a role in quality life. How to take into consideration all the elements such as overall planning, product practicality, aesthetics and price difference from the buyers’ point of view and how to integrate cultural elements and the product itself became two major challenges of the design task.
S.POINT designers started from the Shanghai Tower itself to study the needs of potential target buyers of this landmark building’s souvenirs. The Shanghai Tower is a multi-functional, multi-form, super-high-rise complex building that comprises mainly office and also exhibition, hotel, tourism, entertainment and catering and it’s the tallest building in Shanghai. So, the people that will visit the Shanghai Tower and probably buy its souvenirs include office white-collars working in the building, visitors from the Lujiazui financial circle, Shanghai local residents, and domestic and overseas visitors.
After the determination of potential users, their needs become clear-office supplies, things with literary and artistic elements that can be shared on social networks, and commodities that can be used as gifts or tourist souvenirs. With these insights, the designers put forward different dimensions and elements, and then carried out vertical and horizontal designs.
The four dimensions are closely related to the insights.
For example, based on the Shanghai Tower’s characteristics of tolerance and integration, the designers put forward the dimension of “a city of mix”-an all-inclusive, multi-functional convenient living circle integrating economy, culture, finance, leisure and tourism that meets the needs of a wide range of users and reflects the characteristics of a multi-functional complex building.
And the “sweetheart” concept is more characteristic. S.POINT designers found that the Shanghai Tower, as a new height of the city, became a hot topic at leisure for white collars working at the building, or local residents or tourists from all over the places. As the taste of life itself is often reflected in the language, the local dialect of Shanghai can be visually presented in a fun way as a delicious snack. So, the designers integrated the concept of “game fun and food fun” in the design of souvenirs such as cookie-shaped coasters and packaging, which were practical and interesting.
From the case of the Shanghai Tower, you may have learned about the concept of “people orientation” often talked about in design thinking. Design is not a visual work, but is done to meet needs and expectations from a human point of view. A souvenir is not born for beauty as after it is bought, it has become a part of the life of a living individual.