Émile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise

The Architecture and Design Book Club by Superscript 


Thu, Apr 4 / 6:30 pm

“With its series of perspectives, the display on the ground floor and the plate-glass window of the mezzanine floor, behind which could be seen all the intimate life of the various departments, the spectacle seemed to Denise to be endless.”

In “The Ladies’ Paradise” (Au Bonheur des Dames), Émile Zola describes the rise of the modern department store against the backdrop of mid-19th century Paris. Basing his fictional emporium on the spectacular Parisian store Bon arché, Zola describes experimentation with all types of marketing methods—advertising, fixed prices, and, most notably, the dazzling displays that lured customers in from the street, pulling them, floor after floor, through a sea of goods ranging from the exotic to the everyday. Please join us for this special edition of the ADBC at MAD, where we’ll discuss “The Ladies’ Paradise” and issues of display related to objects, buildings, and cities.

The Architecture and Design Book Club (ADBC) is an informal event held in public spaces in and around New York City. Produced by the editorial consultancy Superscript, at ADBC we discuss fiction and non-fiction related to architecture and design, with conversations led by notable thinkers, writers, and critics. We invite everyone—experts and passersby alike—to drop by and join us for an hour of discussion, debate, and refreshments.

Please review our health and safety protocols before you arrive. MAD strongly recommends all visitors six months and older are vaccinated against Covid-19 and visitors ages two and up wear face coverings, even if vaccinated. Thank you for your cooperation.

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