Vol. 12 No. 1 (2015): Young Views on Urban Design

Appropriation in souvenir design and production: A study in museum shops

Çiğdem Kaya
Department of Industrial Product Design, Faculty of Architecture, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey
Burcu Yançatarol Yağız
Art History Program, Institute of Social Sciences, Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul, Turkey

Published 2015-03-01


  • Product design,
  • Crafts,
  • Souvenir,
  • Representation,
  • Museum shops

How to Cite

Kaya, Çiğdem, & Yançatarol Yağız, B. (2015). Appropriation in souvenir design and production: A study in museum shops. A|Z ITU JOURNAL OF THE FACULTY OF ARCHITECTURE, 12(1), 127 - 146. Retrieved from https://www.az.itu.edu.tr/index.php/jfa/article/view/441


This study examines the product attributes of souvenirs – that, for both retailers and consumers, serve as mediums of cultural and historical representation – from the perspective of design. Souvenirs that visually or conceptually refer to authentic cultural and historical elements claim to contain the essence of a culture or geography, and constitute their own genre. They are the result of the commoditization of authenticity that involves the appropriation of the attributes of authentic cultural or historical elements by one of various techniques, and subsequently the reinterpretation and incorporation of these attributes into a mass-produced souvenir as layers of representation. The aim of this study is to investigate the link between the physical attributes of souvenirs and their source material in order to describe the role of design in the commoditization process. The methodology of the research was a compositional analysis supported by content analysis. Shops of six popular museums in İstanbul and İzmir were selected as sample sites and their contents’ physical properties – such as size, texture, color, form, production technique, choice of material, and intended function – were studied to identify the appropriation techniques employed in the creation of counter-top souvenirs whose representational attributes reinterpret or reconstruct those of a reference element. These techniques include (1) surface treatment and condensing attributes of a source into graphics, (2) fragmenting, isolating, and scaling authentic patterns or graphics, (3) iconization and replicating an authentic source, (4) reproducing the effect of time and patina, and (5) reinterpreting the original function or redesigning the content in contemporary form.