© Agostino Osio

lR100-Rinascente: Stories of Innovation

What is a department store? What is its role in different urban contexts? How has the digital revolution affected the practice and particularities of its shopping environment? These questions are at the core of recent debates on the future of retail. They resonate among both fashion and architecture historians, and reverberate also through other disciplines – art, design, cinema, theater – to name few, mirroring larger questions of geo-political history and economy.

There is no precise answer to such questions as there is no way to reduce the notion of “department store” to a single statement. A department store is rather a diverse collection of values and identities, expressing the history of the city it belongs to. More than a place, a department store is an open and adaptable cultural canvas of its location, whether it be London, Paris, New York, Tokyo or Milan.