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Consumerism: Retail as a Pedagogical Space Open Access

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America has become a nation defined by its consumerism. In a single day, Americans are exposed to over five thousand advertisements that encourage the relentless consumption of cheap and disposable products. The act of shopping has become a mindless experience, one that is represented by consumers who lack information about the critical implications of a world economy that revolves around consumption. Studies have identified an inverse relationship between consumerism and two key outcomes: (1) the degradation of the environment and depletion of natural resources and (2) declining levels of happiness. These two consequences necessitate a shift in the American mindset and a reconnection of Americans to the ecology of mass production. The retail experience must be augmented to engage consumers at the moment in which they are participating in the behavior or act of consuming. An enriching and pedagogical retail experience rather than one of impoverishment is proposed to initiate a revaluation of the purchasing process that provides opportunities for learning and discovery. A retail environment that employs a pedagogical approach aims to use displays, immersive environments, and dynamic experiences collectively as the boundary of liminality, connecting the act of shopping with a message regarding responsible and educated consumption. The unexpected environment for this type of message is intended to provide a nontraditional, yet effective learning experience; one that results in the customer's reflection upon their typical consumer practices and projects behavior that affects positive change. Additionally, the experience is intended to serve as a catalyst for a shared conversation. The proposed design solution is a Marimekko retail store that integrates a pedagogy into the interior design program, incorporating various interventions throughout the store to inform customers about responsible and sustainable consumer practices.

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