The design of cultural and environmental goods can aim at valorising both material and immaterial cultural heritage at different scales. Specifically, the merchandising product, which is often the victim of production stereotypes, can instead collaborate with a disruptive force in the construction of the non-ephemeral “sense” of a visit. It is, in fact, able to spread complex contents in scientifically correct and comprehensible ways for different targets, condensing the immaterial patrimony into (small) new, low-cost and rich-in-meaning artefacts. This case study, proposed as evidence of such an approach, pertains to a research and teaching activity that was developed in 2017 with 230 university students of design, with the aim of setting up a collection of dedicated merchandising products for a regional talc mine Ecomuseum. The challenge involved narrating the material culture of the location through products that were philologically coherent with the context, but new from the language, functionality, productivity, user involvement and economic accessibility points of view. The resulting projects are, at present, being screened by the Ecomuseum in order to select the most significant for future production. In conclusion, the activity was shown to be potentially scalable and repeatable in other contexts, in which design can valorise an intangible heritage of immense value through products that, inserted into a more extensive strategy of valorisation of the cultural heritage, are within the reach of all.
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