Sunday, 26 August 2007

art of shopping

In The Netherlands the HEMA is almost a given. Everybody knows this department store, with it's usually cheap and cheerful products, which nonetheless always seem to have a well thought-out style. I was reading an article about kids preparing to go back to school recently, in which the mother and daughter ended up at HEMA. HEMA, which stands for Hollandsche Eenheidsprijzen Maatschappij Amsterdam (Dutch Standardprice Company Amsterdam), was founded in 1926 and started out selling products at either 25 or 50 cents.

And it's not just the products, it's also the signs, labels etc. that are very recogniseable. Together, this has inspired El HEMA, a real store recreated by Mediametic, exploring what HEMA would be like if it were based in an Arabic country:

What would an Arabic Hema look like? Halal sausage? Arabic chocolate letters? Affordable high quality headscarves? 3 Arabic scarfs (kaffia) for the price of 2? Tunics or Djballas? School notebooks with lining for Arabic, which reads from right to left? Ali Baba and the 40 shoplifters? Camel milk? Arabic poetry on duvet covers? Jibril and Jamilah children's champagne? North African wine?

The project is based on the launch of five new designs for a more up-to-date looking Arabic script. I think it's an interesting exercise, I should stop by if I can.

EDIT: My apologies for the telegram style of this post, I was a bit tired last night, but wanted to share this before I forgot. I may clean it up and flesh it out a bit later, or you can just follow the links (although most are/end up on Dutch pages) or perhaps you can try a search engine. If any interesting articles come up in English, let me know and I'll link them.


BigAssBelle said...

HEMA ~ sounds like a medical procedure . . .

we don't have any ancient long time business, kind of mom & pop shops.

we have wal mart which will soon own us. it's sickening.

need to move to europe.

SubtleKnife said...

This is not a mom & pop shop, they have around 300 stores in The Netherlands - there's a total of 450-odd municipalities in this country. So they're pretty much everywhere. But they have a cheap and cheerful image without being tacky.

You can imagine a couple moving into their first home furnishing it from Ikea and getting their mugs and vases and placemats and the kettle and such from HEMA.