The image of furniture
Department stores and the trade in interior decoration designs
in Interior decorating in nineteenth-century France
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Chapter 4 examines department store retail in the second half of the nineteenth century to understand how the interior decorating schemes proposed on paper by the various professions discussed above could materialize in the homes of middle-class consumers. In doing so, the chapter argues that department stores were eager to align themselves with the thriving market in artistic interior decoration designs, contributing to the further popularization of this new art form. Through their full-scale model rooms inside the store as much as through their widely distributed and highly illustrated furniture catalogs, the Grands Magasins du Louvre, Au Bon Marché, Le Printemps, Au Petit St.-Thomas, and the Grands Magasins Dufayel brought the image of the most modern furniture and matching interiors to life, right in front of customers’ eyes. By selling the same furniture combinations and decorative schemes in a variety of materials, these stores catered to several social groups at once. Further, by offering personalized interior decorating services to those customers who wished to obtain an exclusive décor, French department stores in the second half of the nineteenth century became themselves early forerunners of the twentieth-century profession of interior designer.

Interior decorating in nineteenth-century France

The visual culture of a new profession

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