One of the joys of traveling is collecting souvenirs. Now, thanks to Elin Aram, you can do it without ever leaving your house.
For her new project, "A Box From," Aram is selling carefully curated boxes of goods from cities around the world for 30 EUR a pop. The "beta" box, from Seoul, features little things like local noodles and tea, a packet of chocolate snacks, some notebooks, and a collagen face mask. They might not seem remarkable, but each was selected for a reason.
The aim, Aram explains, is to "tell the stories about the cities you haven’t heard yet." The chocolate sticks, for example, are made by Lotte, one of the conglomerates that "seem to rule the country," Aram says. In addition to snacks, Lotte also has theme parks and sells oil. The collagen mask "tells the story of the hunt for youth and beauty in Korea."
But the point isn’t to come up with a cross-section of an entire city or culture. Aram tries to pick things that are uniquely interesting to her. "It’s hard to give a representative view of a place," she says. "I try my best not to. I want the boxes to provide a sneak peek of my perspective."
The first batch of boxes from Seoul sold out in just over an hour, and Aram’s already roaming the bazaars of Tehran working on the next one. She explained how she’d just been to a concert at a restaurant where the band exclusively played 50-year-old songs. Everyone knew them word for word. And yet, looking around, Aram noticed that the plastic wrap was purposefully left on the legs of the chairs to give the impression that they were all brand new.
"The obsession with the fresh out of the box stuff and the surrounding conservative and nostalgic culture fascinates me," she says. "Thats one perspective I want the next box to represent."
The plan is to make boxes for several more cities throughout the year. I’m sure they’ll be popular, too—getting stuff from a faraway place is exciting, even when you’re not the one doing the traveling.