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Designing the Department Store: Display and Retail at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Author/EditorOrr, Emily M. (Assistant Curator of Amer (Author)
ISBN: 9781350054370
Pub Date28/11/2019
BindingHardback
Pages208
Dimensions (mm)234(h) * 156(w)
$165.45
excluding shipping
Availability: Available to order but dispatch within 7-10 days
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Designing the Department Store considers the significant achievements and changes in interior design, display and architecture which contributed to a major shift in retail design practice at the turn of the twentieth century.

The 'displayman', the predecessor of today's window-dressers and visual merchandisers, is the focus of this study. Changeability, creativity and technological enhancement are all factors which became greater priorities in visual merchandising in the late nineteenth century, and which remain central to the success of retail today.

The book builds a new argument for the department store as a significant site of design production, and therefore offers an alternative interpretation to the mainstream focus on consumption within retail history. The study presents a new perspective on the rise of modern urban consumer culture, of which the department store was a key feature. By investigating the production processes of display, the book reveals new information about display-making's tools and technologies, the skills of the displayman and the meaning and context of design decisions which shaped the final visual effect.

In addition, the book identifies and isolates 'display' as a distinct moment in the life of the commodity, and interprets it as an influential channel of mediation in the shopping experience. The assembly and interpretation of a diverse range of previously unexplored primary resources and archives yields fascinating new evidence, revealing how display achieved an agency which transformed everyday objects into commodities and made consumers out of passersby.

Designing the Department Store considers the significant achievements and changes in interior design, display and architecture which contributed to a major shift in retail design practice at the turn of the twentieth century.

The 'displayman', the predecessor of today's window-dressers and visual merchandisers, is the focus of this study. Changeability, creativity and technological enhancement are all factors which became greater priorities in visual merchandising in the late nineteenth century, and which remain central to the success of retail today.

The book builds a new argument for the department store as a significant site of design production, and therefore offers an alternative interpretation to the mainstream focus on consumption within retail history. The study presents a new perspective on the rise of modern urban consumer culture, of which the department store was a key feature. By investigating the production processes of display, the book reveals new information about display-making's tools and technologies, the skills of the displayman and the meaning and context of design decisions which shaped the final visual effect.

In addition, the book identifies and isolates 'display' as a distinct moment in the life of the commodity, and interprets it as an influential channel of mediation in the shopping experience. The assembly and interpretation of a diverse range of previously unexplored primary resources and archives yields fascinating new evidence, revealing how display achieved an agency which transformed everyday objects into commodities and made consumers out of passersby.

Emily Marshall Orr is Assistant Curator of Modern and Contemporary American Design at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, USA.

List of Illustrations Acknowledgments Abbreviations Introduction Geographical and Historical Context Contributing to the History of the Department Store Chapter One: Retail Architecture The Visibility of Constructionand Renovation The Changeable Design of the Storefront Architectural Display as Competition Technical Scope as a Show Feature Chapter Two: Window Display Professional Development Making Window Displays Stocky Style Draping Techniques and the Female Gaze Sculptural Style Machinery of Display The Unit Principle Chapter Three: The Shopfitting Industry Silent Salesmanship Science of Shopkeeping The Shopfitting Industry and Exhibition Culture From Density to Openness Chapter Four: The Department Store Interior Seasonality A Great Decoration Event Virtual Travel via Display The Model Room: An Interior of Interiors Professional Development Conclusion The Modern Displayman In Summary Bibliography

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