02. Souvenirs for Egypt
We are working on designing and launching a new souvenir line inspired by ancient egyptian heritage. The idea came to us due to the recent debates about the importance of educating Egyptians about their rich culture and heritage so that they see it is well preserved. The collection will consist of high quality art prints, enamel pins, bookmarks and stickers. It be specifically designed for our local community, due to the lack of contemporary gifts for the younger generation. We will be collaborating with professional archaeologists to back up our designs with educational excerpts about the significance of the motifs and patterns we will be using.
We are aiming to launch this collection shortly before the opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum which is projected to be the world’s largest single culture museum. We are doing so because the museum gift shop curators are working with local businesses and artists to source the gift shop’s products. We are designing this collection to be displayed at the museum’s gift shop.
The Grand Egyptian Museum
For this project, we are following the Creative inquiry model for transdisciplinarity in Art & Design presented by Costantino (Costantino, 2015):
Step 01, Find A problem:
We noticed a lack of contemporary heritage-inspired artwork that could also double as souvenirs. The market is oversaturated with papyrus replicas after ancient Egyptian funerary texts, as well as scarab beetles and small figurines, all geared towards foreign consumers with no deep understanding of the culture.
Traditional souvieners at Khan Elkhalili
Step 02, multi modal inquiry:
Upon further research, and on-site visits to local markets and artisan workshops, we noticed that the Egyptian market is rife with unique, handmade goods crafted by extremely skilled artisans.
For instance, a walk down Khan El Khalili, Egypt’s biggest market, you’ll find a wide variety or artisanally crafted tapestry “Kheyameyya” which translates to tent making (Egyptomania!, 2023), hardwood carved and inlaid furniture pieces, hand carved replicas of ancient Egyptian chess boards, among other goods that require refined skills. What we did notice is the lack of contemporary artistic heritage gifts aimed towards the younger members of our community who are not homeowners.
Examples of high qaulity hand crafter souvenirs
Step 03, Refine Problem:
The lack of heritage inspired gifts and artwork geared towards younger members of our community.
Step 04, in-process critique:
I am fortunate to have established a relationship with Louise O'Brien a Postgraduate Research Student in archaeology at the University Of Liverpool. Louise has been our main consultant for this project as well as our main connection with the archaeology discipline.
Upon revealing the project to her, we learned that there also seems to be a market gap and demand by international museums for the type of products we would like to produce and that museums with Egyptian artifacts in their collections are keen on establishing ties with Egyptian artists. Though this project is first and foremost curated for our community, it has the potential to grow internationally by establishing ties and collaborating with international museums.
Step 05, Multi Modal inquiry/ material exploration:
With Louise’s notes in mind, we set out to gather our reference materials. We set up a Padlet moodboard and a Pinterest mood board so we could share ideas & images, collaborate and get feedback seamlessly. With my position in the UK, I am fortunate enough to be able to visit the British museum’s extensive Egyptian artifact collection and photograph close up shots of the intricate details and patterns that we would like to capture in our work. Also, The British museum’s online archive contains comprehensive records of the artifacts which I was able to access and navigate thanks to Louise’s advice.
screenshot of our padlet and pinterest board
We also established that the first collection of products we would like to work on would be enamel pins because they take the longest time to produce and they are our best selling products in Egypt. We will then move on to create the art prints, book marks and stickers.
Step 06, Draft, Model, Design:
Upon analyzing the reference images and mood boards, we set aside a week to sketch our initial ideas. During this period we do not share our ideas with each other so as to not influence each other and limit creativity. I then compiled our sketches into a PowerPoint presentation.
first round of sketches
Step 07, In process critique:
I set up an in-person meeting with Louise to go over our initial round of sketches. This meeting has been integral to the creation of this line because she had a lot of creative and insightful feedback as a professional archaeologist that we would not have normally gained without this collaboration. She urged us to focus on high contrast designs since this was a staple aesthetic in ancient Egyptian art. She also advised us to refrain from using silver since as “it generally appears less frequently in the Egyptian archaeological record than gold or cupreous metals" (The Met Museum, 2018). She also offered to give us access to the Garstang museum archive to view its extensive photo negatives which are not on display.
Step 08, Multi Modal Inquiry:
We narrowed down our references and color palettes after Louise’s feedback session and established a clearer vision for the designs.
Step 09, Draft, Model, Design:
For our second round of designs, we completely redesigned some of our initial ideas. We also started reaching out to our vendors to look into production costs and timelines.
Second round of sketches
My art Print Design
Vendor production quotation
Step 10, In process critique:
TBA, We will have another feedback round with Louise to go over the educational excerpts we would like to write about our collection.
Step 11, Refine:
TBA, We will have a professional themed photoshoot for our collection.
Step 12, Exhibition & Presentation:
TBA, We will launch the collection online and offline
Costantino, T., 2015. Lessons from art and design education: The role of in-process critique in the creative inquiry process.. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 9(2).
Egyptomania!. 2023. [Film] Directed by Dan Cruickshank. UK: British Museum Events.
The Met Museum, 2018. New on the Timeline: What Silver Meant in Ancient Egypt. [Online] Available at: https://www.metmuseum.org/blogs/collection-insights/2018/silver-in-ancient-egypt-timeline-introduction#:~:text=In%20ancient%20Egypt%2C%20silver%20was,part%20of%20The%20Met%20collection