The massification and standardization of souvenirs offered in major tourist destinations around the world seem to compromise the authenticity and representation of the cultural identity that these products intend to evoke. Although the tourist souvenir is a product widely addressed by academic studies in tourism and other social areas, there is a gap in design studies about the value this object has as a representative of unique cultural expressions. In this article, we observe the potential offered by souvenirs as a subject for teaching design, in a didactic exercise focused on valuing cultural identity. In 2009, the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, was preparing itself to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Rio2016 Olympic Games. From 2009 to 2011, three hundred students of the Methods and Processes in Design course, from the Fashion Design degree of SENAI-CETIQT – Chemical and Textile Industry Technology Centre of the National Service for Industrial Learning, were encouraged to develop an innovative souvenir that could represent the local culture. It was possible to notice the relevance of cultural aspects as a determinant factor of differentiation and authenticity in the souvenir design project, in addition to bringing to the students a greater awareness of the role of the designer in creating non-verbal messages about the cultural identity of a nation or locality.
Keywords: souvenir design, cultural identity, design education