Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods

Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods

Francesca Murialdo (Middlesex University, UK)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0666-9.ch010


Interiors, intended as the discipline able to build (not only) physical connections in between spaces, people and objects, has deeply changed in the last decades, assuming new roles and aims. Both theory and practice, thanks to its continuous updating, have being able to generate innovative and collaborative insight and solutions, moving fast towards new contents, new tools and different strategies focused on the contemporaneity. In this framework, retail design, both in research and profession, is particularly interesting as an expression of this disciplinary shift, with an approach characterized by multidisciplinarity, experimentation and a strong relational dimension. The change in the significance of goods is a process that, ever since the end of the Industrial Revolution, has triggered far-reaching changes in society as the term has lost any meaning in relation to its purely functional character and increasingly come to represent symbolic and cultural contents. “Practice of Consumption and Spaces for Goods” has the aim to investigate contemporary retail spaces as complex places combining many aspects that go beyond the spatial and functional to include the physical, social, cultural and economic.
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From Public Happiness To Private Shopping

The Declaration of Independence of United States of America of 1776 states that governments are created among people to protect their Inalienable Rights, i.e. Life, Freedom and seek for Happiness: a collective project, the pursuing of a common goal, involving everyone and keeping united a society which recognizes in the seek for its happiness an inalienable right for each component.

At the end of ‘800 (in the United States) the main features of that culture were the acquisition and the consumption as means to reach happiness; the cult of novelties; the democratization of wishes; and the value of money as a determining factor of the value of society (Leach, 1993, p.3).

After 1850, between the first and the second industrial revolution, the general stores start to appear in the great cities1. Both from the point of view of the impact of the new trade structures on the city and of the appearance of this new typology, this is an epochal revolution, capable of transforming deeply the structure of social life till nowadays.

With the General Store, leisure is led to the dimension of consumption: here is where «consumers start to feel as a mass» (Benjamin, 1982).

Happiness is normally bound to relative consumption: it depends on how much our consumption is different from the one of our equals (Bruni, Pelligra, 2002, p. 113).

Goods played a critic role in the transformation of the concept and the perceiving of happiness: as the production capacity grew, the consumption capacity proportionally grew as well and happiness converted from an object to be pursued accordingto a political collective project into a kind of individual gratification to be consumed even in a few minutes, just like any product.

At the beginning of ’80 years, Margareth Tatcher stated that «society doesn’t exist» thus definitively giving way to the idea that all political and social axioms have to be traced to the economical sphere of liberism.

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