A Box From
Emma Tucker, August 13, 2013
“I try to shed some light on cities that are exciting but rarely visited. The ones that are not a part of the mainstream scope of places to visit. Cities that deserve more attention.”
Designer Elin Aram allows people to experience the individual quirks and personalities of cities from around the world, with her A Box From project.
“My last box is from Tehran, a city many people would never even consider to go to”, explains designer Elin Aram, of her latest project, “if my box can make someone have second thoughts, then my work is done.”
Aram’s box from Tehran is the second iteration in an ongoing project that sees the designer assemble collections of items from cities around the world, curating a box of objects that she feels best represents the spirit and character of each location.
Aram avoids the idea of throwaway keepsakes, sold as part of a tourist trade. “I’m not a souvenirs person,” she says,” and I couldn’t be bothered less with old dusty monuments. I’d rather tell the current story of a city through everyday objects that locals use.”
Her Tehran box contains a diverse range of items, from counterfeit plastic Versace bags, to baskets and teabags. All items that Aram feels embody the everyday spirit of the city.
“I try to make sure that the box tells more stores than just one,” she explains, “I know pretty instantly when I see something I want to put in it. But it takes time to get to know a city and it takes a lot of conversations with locals. The box wouldn’t exist without their stories and perspective.”
Aram found some of the inspiration for the A Box From project in the world of art. She explains, “a lot of contemporary art is about the idea or story behind everyday objects. You put the object in the spotlight, or a plexiglass cube, and suddenly it becomes interesting and attractive. My plexiglass cube is a box instead.”
However, more than that A Box From feels like a potential evolution of the magazine format.
As advertising revenues have declined and readers have demanded more than single print editions, publications have been forced to innovate. Whilst some have branched out to become multi-platform media entities, other designers and publishers have taken a more considered and physical approach to the medium.
Drawing on the avant garde 60s publication, Aspen, Artomatic recently challenged ideas of what a magazine can embody with its Container publication, which functions as a box of objects, each curated by a different contributor. Container describes itself as ‘a new publication about the nature and culture of objects’, and parallels with A Box From are clear.
Whilst Aram doesn’t explicitly refer to her project in magazine terms, it conveys more about the nature of different cities than a traditional travel magazine, and in a more tangible, human way. As publications continue to reinvent themselves, Aram’s work offers intriguing insights into the way we consume narrative and media, and the potential for a more palpable way of telling a story.