Architectures of display : department stores and modern retail

Lara-Betancourt, Patricia , Lasc, Anca I. and Maile Petty, Margaret, eds. (2018) Architectures of display : department stores and modern retail. Abingdon, U.K. : Routledge. 292p. (Routledge Research in Interior Design) ISBN 9781472468451


'Architectures of Display' departs from the premise that the presentation of merchandise cannot be separated from the modern materials and building techniques that have been the preferred focus of architectural and art historians so far. Consequently, it proposes to challenge the traditional hierarchy of materials and to replace brick and mortar, paint and stone with theatrical props, tantalizing fabrics, lighting, wax mannequins and artificial flowers as well as a host of other visual effects focused on capturing and sustaining the viewers’ attention, which, together, form a real architecture of display. Engaging with new materials, media, and ideas, the studies collected in this volume illustrate the historical importance of commercial display as an essential component of modern art, design, and architecture, highlighting the capacity of retail design to encapsulate, stylize, and reinterpret culture and its diverse manifestations. Through a series of case studies analyzing strategies of display in department stores and modern retail spaces from the late- nineteenth century to the start of the twenty first century, 'Architectures of Display' aims to provide a rich array of historical insights of value to design, architectural and art historians. Established scholars and emerging researchers working within a range of disciplinary contexts and historiographical traditions shed light on the core of what constitutes modern retail and the ways in which retail and interior designers, architects and artists have built and transformed their practices in response to the commercial context. Focusing on the mechanisms and methods comprising the architectures of display and such spatial typologies as staged sets, window displays, model rooms/ homes and corporate environments, our volume emphasizes the ways in which these displays have transformed and enhanced the retail experience through the decades, as well as the economic, political, and social contexts from which they emerged. These varied retail settings are viewed as sites of modernity, in which professionalization and gender also play a key part.

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