April 6, 2018
"I like to think of us as a showcase for inventive untested products at a relatively low medium price point of $30," Phillips says. When the museum did a Wim Delvoye massive art installation project based on the human digestive system ("Cloaca"), T-shirts, mugs, and gift toilet paper were developed for the shop. The toilet paper costs $5. Phillips brought a few rolls to a birthday party recently, where the items produced "some lively conversation."
Forchildren, the store has "the Myra Kalman books on Max the Dachshund, among other ingenious gifts, including the contemporary dollhouse designed by Laurie Simmons with its own art collection (in miniature) on the walls, and Yoshitomo Nara toys manufactured by Bozart, Inc., in Philadelphia," Phillips says. "My favorites are the Little Wanderers figures from Yoshitomo's famous art images of children. You wind them up and, just like real kids, they meander and get lost instead of walking a straight line."
The shop also carries Playdough and Colorforms, a toy it revived, according to Phillips. "Colorforms were really popular about 50 years ago," she says. "The thin pieces of translucent plastic in basic shapes help children explore color, forms, and patterns."
More sophisticated designs for adults made exclusively for the store include Nara Murakami's shirts for $30 and $90 watches; Hank Stallinga's handbag made from two shovel heads for $35; and the shoes designed for the store by famous artists including Damien Hurst, Jeff Koons, and Phillips' personal favorites: Lori Simmons' stilettos with little jeweled cameras on the ankle strap. The shoe collection is now on sale at Bergdorf Goodman ("We get 10 percent of all purchases," Phillips says.) and will be the museum store's display for Christmas.
"In the future, I am looking toward a broader-based global sourcing for New Museum products," Phillips says. "In the meantime, we are beginning to develop our own licensing ventures. The first is a set of boxed CDs of top video artists starring in our media lounge. We will be distributing these internationally. Featured artists include Francis Alys, William Kentridge, Henri Sala, and Pierre Huyghe."
Last but not least is the Artomat. It works like a candy machine. You put in the coins, pull the lever, and out comes a little work of art. "It is a work of art in itself," Phillips says. "So, in a way, is the shop. For our store manager, Jennifer Delfin, the store and its contents are designed to be 'engaging and educational about the currents in contemporary art and design and how they relate to our daily lives.' If you asked me to describe the most important aspect of the way we market at the New Museum, I would just say very simply: Our constant is change."
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