Square Goes High Fashion With Vivienne Tam Branded 'Double Happiness' Device

It’s not often that I get to write about the intersection of art, design, fashion and technology, but Square has just made my day. Today, in conjunction with New York Fashion Week, Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup is teaming up with designer Vivienne Tam to launch a limited edition, branded Square credit card reader.

The brainchild of Dorsey and Jim McKelvey, Square was unveiled last December as a small credit card reader that could turn any iPhone into a mobile cash register. The startup, which just raised $27.5 million in new funding, unveiled apps for the iPad, Android and iPhone. Square has steadily gained traction as a simple payments option for small businesses and is processing millions of dollars a week in transactions.

The branded Square reader is black lacquer-like and features the Chinese symbol for double happiness in red. The design is inspired by Tam’s ‘China Chic’ style and representative of her personal mantra— two characters for happiness (xi) are joined to express the joy of wedded union. As stated in the release, Chinese culture favors equilibrium; yin is balanced by yang. Symmetry is an underlying principle not only in art and architecture, but also in all realms of design, terrestrial or celestial. For Tam, the ‘Double Happiness’ Square represents the two worlds of technology and fashion going hand in hand.

The ‘Double Happiness’ Square will be available on the designer’s website and in her retail stores for $10 (the unbranded Square is available on its website for free). But proceeds of each purchase will be donated to the Happy Hearts Fund, an organization which aims to improve children’s lives through educational and sustainable programs in natural disaster areas.

For Square, this is the first branded partnership, but it’s unsurprising that Dorsey chose to introduce the device into the fashion world. Dorsey is no doubt fashion forward, and is admittedly personally fascinated by the interesection of art and technology. He tells us that Tam’s focus on fitting form factor in day-to-day life parallels his mission with Square.

The technology-forward Tam isn’t new to the gadget scene. She has previously designed branded laptop and netbook computers for HP, as well as headphones.

As for other branded partnerships, Dorsey says it is definitely something the company is looking at when it makes sense. “The Square is something that can be personalzied easily and can be a form of expression,” he explains.

For now, Tam will not actually be using the device to process transactions, but Dorsey says that expanding Square beyond small businesses into larger-scale retail stores could be in the company’s future. “We want to explore larger retail partnerships,” he says, “but that requires more definition in our API.” Dorsey says that as the platform becomes more solid, we will see more retail partnerships later this year integrate with the device as a payments platform.