Based in Stockholm, Fotografiska has risen fast to become one of the vanguards of photography as an art form. From the beginning, Fotografiska has adopted a demographic approach to curation and spatial design, with a holistic identity that begins the moment a visitor enters the museum. With a thriving store, and restaurant as popular as its galleries, Fotografiska has now linked with Creator Studio to expand its merch offering. We chatted to Eva-Lena Degerhäll, director of retail at Fotografiska about the experience so far.
In a short space of time, Fotografiska has become almost synonymous with photographic art and artists. What’s your special sauce?
We think Fotografiska is a destination with an experience that’s adapted and flexible. It fits our place in time and we try to bring people close to a real experience.
We’re all involved in the decision process and have the chance to bring something to the table. So everything we do is diplomatic and driven by meaning but we’re also pretty brave and bold. We have a defined stance but are also compact enough to react and respond to new ideas, trends, changes and societal flux.
One thing we want to be is inclusive, open and non-exclusive. You don’t need to have any sort of experience or knowledge in art or photography to get something from the experience. We’re welcoming and anti-art snobbery. Photography is a very democratic form of art, so it’s easy to understand and get your own sense of feeling from it. One of the beauties of photography is that everyone has a chance to respond and form a personal reaction to the work. It’s very immediate and accessible as a medium.
The space itself feels very dynamic and as much a part of the experience as the works and exhibitions. Is that a conscious thing – that Fotografiska should be a destination as well as a gallery?
We can see that our location and spatial design add to the visitor experience. From the way you make your way through the entrance, and on into the exhibition spaces and our restaurant – all these elements add to your experience. Visitors are feeling and reacting to something from start to finish.
There are subtle sensory aspects to our spatial design, like a nice scent, and the way the shop is airy and vibrant. We also had a nice ‘forest bar’ in one of the exhibitions, we really enjoy activating all the senses. Food, music, scent, light ambience… our sense philosophy brings together different elements that add to the whole. For example, not so many museums get visitors for the food as much as they do for the art.
Talk to us about the collaboration between Fotografiska and Creator Studio. And how merch fits into the museum?
We started the merch collab with the Hans Gedda exhibition and we’re very focused on our environmental impact, so responsible merch is crucial.
Hans himself is very curious and rock’n’roll and he felt there needs to be nice merch to complement the exhibition. He knew what he wanted and how it would fit into his vision and the show. It felt so right to do it as merch on demand with Creator Studio, and also from the artists’ perspectives.
The visitors will often want a souvenir from the exhibitions and artists they’ve just viewed and we saw immediately that they’re really responding positively to the merch and the way it's made.
Making merch on demand feels very of our time in terms of the production and it marries with how we think as well. We want to make the best decisions we can based on the outcome for the planet. Plus, it’s good to give people the chance to buy right from the beginning.
Are artists today aware of merchandise as a part of their way of connecting with their audience?
I’d say so, yes. Art and photography are very clued into merchandise and how their work translates into other mediums. Museums have had shops with books, posters, keepsakes and prints for a long time. Soft merchandise like we’re making with Creator Studio is a natural extension of this. On show now is a group show called In Bloom, and the artists Inka & Niclas, who’d seen our Gedda merch said; ‘We want that too!’
We want to have that kind of engagement between the artists and the way they are portrayed on the merch and the artists have all been very active in the creative process.
What are the plans for the collab between Fotografiska and Creator Studio in the future?
If it feels right for an exhibition and its artists, we’ll offer it to them. And we’ll work with them towards using artwork that feels right for the garments. It’s been a real proof of concept for us, and for you too I guess at the Creator Studio end!
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