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Setting the Stage: Retail Store Design and Display in the 20th Century

11/18/23 Saturday Lecture with Dr. Alessandra Wood


Saturday, 11/18/23 10am PT

This presentation will be in-person and over Zoom from the Koret Auditorium at the de Young Museum in San Francisco.

In-Person Tickets: $5, sold at the door only \ free for TAC members


Virtual Tickets (Zoom): $5 Members of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Students. $10 General Admission \ free for TAC members.

A recording will be available for two weeks following the talk.


Dr. Alessandra Wood will explore the exciting visual changes that took place in retail settings during the early and mid-twentieth century. Retailers worked with designers to conceive new layouts, interior design features, and merchandise display techniques

to transform the shopping experience for consumers. The talk will focus on American department stores with local examples throughout and showcase illustrative imagery that will allow you to travel back in time to the golden era of department stores.


Dr. Wood is a design historian with an eye towards the future. She is the author of Designed to Sell: The Evolution of Modern Merchandising and Display (Routledge, 2020), which presents an engaging account of mid-twentieth-century retail design and display in America.

Alessandra received her PhD at the University of Delaware, her MA in History of Design and Decorative Arts from Parsons, The New School for Design, and her BA in History of Art from Johns Hopkins University. A lover of design history and theory, she is obsessed

by applying that knowledge to understand what makes products beautiful, useful, and successful, and what inspires people to love those products. Her superpower is the ability to visit a mall once and memorize its layout. She lives in the Bay Area with her family and teaches as an adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco.

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