The strict selection protocol of the products on display allows the aesthetic sense of the objects to be represented in the right way and to convey emotions in people's lives
With more than 2.5 million visitors a year, the MoMA - Museum of Modern Art - in New York is the quintessential attraction spot for modern art enthusiasts. Six floors of galleries, almost 200,000 artworks on display, a permanent collection coexisting in harmony with temporary exhibitions.
The MoMA Design Store is a symbolic insight into this fascinating world, a kind of place that pampers the visitor in search of iconic objects, but also reproductions of the works admired on display in the exhibition. A sort of shopping paradise that follows precise rules and aesthetic canons. The routes along which the works are arranged are carefully designed, the artwork offer selection is inspired by strict principles.
Alexandra Glaser, Senior Product Manager MoMA Retail, will be visiting Milano Home. We asked the US Manager to tell us about this universe of beauty, appreciated by designers and loved by the public, and about her expectations for the trade fair.
"I am looking for new products, in particular for items made by small and emerging brands, as well as items that are an expression of Made in Italy. I hope that this new edition of Milano Home will meet my expectations and I look forward to finding new ideas and solutions to offer an even broader and more comprehensive range of opportunities to the international customers of the MoMA Design Store.
How is the MoMA Design Store organised?
“We offer and promote a wide range of products all inspired by the Museum of Modern Art's collection and exhibitions, ranging from art books and reproductions to table, desktop and personal accessories, technology products, furniture and lighting. Our approach is product-focused, which means that we identify items that best illustrate important design trends, collections or designers, rather than trying to create a complete catalogue within a single category.”
What criteria do you use to select articles?
"There are various criteria, the result of careful reasoning aimed at enhancing the final product. At the same time, the object must fulfil a number of ethical principles.
Is the artist or designer in the MoMA's permanent collection or part of an exhibition?
Is the product made out of innovative materials?
Does it support a specific problem?
Does it carry an educational value?
Is it sustainable?
Does it represent gender and cultural diversity?
It is important to emphasise that these filters are flexible and constantly evolving.”
What lies behind the great beauty and variety of the MoMA Design Store?
“We know that our customers appreciate designs that feature the MoMA logo, but they also like to be surprised and have their curiosity tickled every time they enter our shop, so we are constantly looking for new designs and designers to be featured in our available selection.
Whether we are developing an exclusive colour, reintroducing an archive product, entering into a licensing agreement or creating something completely new, our aim is to constantly amaze with unique products that cannot be found anywhere else, making us a fantastic and inspiring destination.
We are also excited to be the first to bring new brands and emerging talent to the market. The MoMA Design Store is recognised by designers as an incredible platform to launch exclusive objects, plus we have a great track record of being the first at introducing new products and brands that are very successful in the United States.”
What is the value that products must express and what are visitors looking for?
“In addition to the above-mentioned criteria that highlight what we look for when evaluating a product, our prerogative is to bring 'Good Design' into people's lives through objects that evoke memories and emotions. We want the MoMA Design Store to be a destination of discovery for new and returning visitors, a place filled with items that bring joy to their daily lives.”
From your angle of observation, how are museum shops around the world changing? Are there any particular ongoing trends?
“MoMA's retail operations have always been different from those of other museums. The Museum of Art Design was the first institution to create a curatorial department dedicated to Architecture and Design in 1932 and, by mid-century, played a leading role in defining and promoting the values of good design, which we continue to uphold today.
In general, we have seen a shift towards a more multi-channel experience. While not everyone can visit the museum and its shops in New York, customers now interact with the MoMA Design Store online, at: store.moma.org, or through licensing partnerships such as UNIQLO shops around the world.”