“Where there are no meaningful differences, brands become
interchangeable commodities.” This statement represents what many
department stores have become, according to Paco Underhill, who calls
himself a “shopping anthropologist.” Mr. Underhill also complains about
the “homogeneity of intention” of department stores, and adds that they
“lack stimulus”. This comment is in stark contrast to the huge popularity
of department stores in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. During this
time, the new middle class had never previously had the opportunity to
purchase, let alone afford items that department stores were offering
them. Department stores were awe-inspiring places to visit and purchase
items, which is rarely the case now.
Using history, behavioral, anecdotal and quantitative research, this thesis
proposal will examine modern consumer behavior, and how recent
economic changes and technological advances have caused major
changes in how people shop. Consumers’ lives have changed
dramatically, and they no longer need department stores as they used to.
However, shopping is an activity that is tightly woven into our culture, and
there is a need for a more evolved and nimble type of retail environment
that provides service, products and social interaction that the modern
consumer needs and wants.
The Lone Tree Exchange project is a department store which proposes to
fill that need. Sited in Omaha, Nebraska, in a vibrant warehouse district,
Lone Tree Exchange is a new business model that would stand for
something more than the mere exchange of money for products, Lone
Tree would be a new type of socially responsible retail environment, on
that would borrow design elements from other successful businesses;
aspects of social gathering spaces, high-tech, as well as the most
innovative service and design ideas in the retail category.
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the degree of Masters of Arts
Corcoran College of Art + Design (Washington, D.C.)
Masters Theses from the Corcoran College of Art + Design
The Corcoran College of Art + Design has non-exclusive publication rights. Permission is granted to quote from the thesis with the customary acknowledgement of the source. Copyright for each article is retained by the author. Republication in any form requires permission from the author of the thesis.