The Art of Merchandising
Products helping to keep memories alive: “Exit through the gift shop”
Postcards and fridge magnets are perhaps the best-selling souvenirs worldwide. These and many other museum shop products and souvenirs are designed and produced by Lanzfeld Editions in Delft.
by Annabel Schipper | special thanks to Paul Wentges
The company was established in 2003 by Paul Wentges and Martijntje Deketh, both graduates from the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering in Delft. Being a creative and technical couple with
experience in business management, Paul and Martijntje decided to start working on the cutting edge of arts & commerce. This soon resulted in the
collaboration with famous museums like the Rijksmuseum, the Van Gogh Museum and the Louvre, as well as many other large and small museums, monuments and heritage sites. Their company has developed into one of the major suppliers of museum shop merchandise in the world. How are the products created and how do they get them onto the market? We talked about this with Paul and Martijntje.
Combine and improve
Like many other design students, Paul dreamed of inventing great new life changing and innovative products. However, during his studies, he realized
that this was not the path he wanted to follow. He found it more satisfying to create something new using existing resources and elements. “You could
compare it to Lego, where you use building blocks to create something new.” That is what they do at their company. Lanzfeld combines existing artworks with existing products, while adding value through graphics, content and appearance.
The real thing
In most cases, works of art are unique and are best experienced in person. Unfortunately, you cannot bring them home with you… However, people do like to take the experience, emotion or inspiration of an exhibition or piece of art home with them. This is where Lanzfeld comes in: capturing this emotion in a souvenir. Lanzfeld tries to use products or gifts to satisfy people’s need to remember important experiences. The company
believes that it is important for consumers to receive products that preserve their memories, but realizes that they must also offer profits to museums and other institutions. This means everyone will be happy, including Lanzfeld.
Cut it out!
Visitors must be stimulated before you can entice them to make a purchase. Products must be made as attractive as possible. Many factors are taken into account, but it all starts with the ‘cut-out’.
The artwork is not the same size as the products that have derived from it. What do you want to show? How close do you zoom in? What is the essence of the artwork? Sometimes you just use a
few interesting details from an artwork. Although full works of art are rarely used, the selected details should still represent the whole artwork, Paul says. It was almost considered sacrilege for curators and art historians to cut up paintings. This
is no longer an issue as long as it is in the correct context.
Add value through graphics
Besides carefully ‘creating’ cut-outs of the artwork, they place great emphasis on graphic design. What is the intended look for the product? Calm or eye-catching? Sometimes museums already have
a very distinct brand identity. In this case, you can make minor changes, but must work within a particular template. However, some museums do not have a brand identity at all. According to Paul,
these projects are interesting because they often offer a lot of freedom. In such cases, they are usually asked to design a whole range of products and even shape the graphic identity of the whole
museum. When it comes to ranges of products, they must all fit together so a brand identity gradually emerges. Color proofing and graphic consistency are also very important. This means products must appear like being a part of a wider
assortment or part of a product family.
“Visitors want to hold on to the memories they had during their visit to the museum."
Look and feel
Lanzfeld only wants to deliver so-called museum quality products, so museum visitors are tempted to buy them. For example, if simple notebooks or journals are made thicker and off-white natural and environmentally friendly paper is used, people perceive them to have a more valuable look and feel. Rounding off the corners of the pages and finish the cover with a matt coating, further
enhances the premium appearance. You could also add an elastic closure, to protect it from damage when carried in a bag or pocket. While being tiny,
aesthetic and functional details and minor improvements, together they truly add value when incorporated into a single product.
What you see is what you get
It is important for people to immediately recognize the product, especially in shops. You have only got a split second to attract someone’s attention. ‘What you see is what you get’ – is Lanzfeld’s credo. That is why the company minimizes packaging. As packaging is normally thrown away afterwards, environmentally speaking: the less, the better. People may buy products because of the original artwork, the graphics, the overall appearance or
function, but in locations like museum shops holding onto memories is the primary purchasing reason.
There are so many works of art, which one should you choose? When it comes to museums, they normally want their flagship piece. After all, that is what attracts most visitors. Other museums
may want advice. In that case, Lanzfeld needs to know what the museum stands for. What is commercially attractive, and can it be easily applied to a full range of products while maintaining
the museum’s essence? In some cases, Paul is given a tour of the museum to choose whichever work of art he wants to work with. In other instances, like the Cathedral of Seville or the Keukenhof tulip gardens, Lanzfeld is asked to
(re)create an attractive work of art, which closely captures the experience and the venue. In these projects Lanzfeld likes to combine heritage with distinct modernity and create a new style of fashionable gift shop items.
The specific products in each assortment vary from client to client. The overall aim is to allow people to create beautiful memories, while offering relevant
products to the specific segments of visitors in a particular location. The main product categories in museum shops include souvenirs, home and decoration, writing, fashion, accessories, books and
toys. Visitors can be divided into local returning visitors, international tourists, children, students and pensioners. Visitor segmentation is essential when creating a suitable product mix and selecting
appropriate works of art. An example is the difference between international tourists and local visitors. The first might prefer to buy a sleeping mask, travel items or souvenirs, that can be easily
brought home, while the latter tends to buy more practical products for daily use.
Exit through the gift shop
By selling appropriate merchandise to, museums, companies, institutions and events, they are able to spread their image and message. People tend to be inspired during their visits. By offering a product that evokes this inspiration, they can be inspired again and can share this pleasure with others.
Products help to capture these memories, encouraging and inspiring people. They can also be given to friends and family to share experiences, while offering free promotion for the client. In the end, it is all about sharing and preserving a great
experience, putting a smile on people’s faces and supporting a great cause, for example a museum.
Products from the Pop-Art tulip line, based on a 250 year old engraving