Walking into a department store today almost feels nostalgic, as if visiting confused and disheveled remnants of spaces whose golden age is long past, vessels for dreams of a bygone era. Taking its place, online shopping is further removing the dream from objects and experiences, abstracting them as interfaces and cutouts devoid of context, shadow or materiality. Furthermore, the permeance of advertising and race for global marketshare, profitability per square foot, and followers on social media has made the shopping experience loud, homogeneous and meaningless.

How far have we drifted from the Parisian arcades and department stores — birthplaces of shopping as we know it — which staged ideas, innovations and novelty products from around the globe, connecting visitors to an expanding world of promise and awe?

Yet browsing arrays of products displayed for our consideration, each the strange conception of mysterious forces of creation and production, can still evoke powerful feelings — both of wonder, as if browsing through a cabinet of curiosities — and of horror, constituting a sinister vision of a labyrinthine world devoid of reason. This polarity, rich in symbolic and sensorial affects, connects our not-so-distant past to a future still in formation, and makes shopping an important frontier for dreaming, speculating about the blending of physical and virtual sensations and experiences.

This issue investigates these dreams and imagines some of their new expressions.

Savinien Caracostea, Editor in Chief

Walking into a department store today almost feels nostalgic, as if visiting confused and disheveled remnants of spaces whose golden age is long past, vessels for dreams of a bygone era. Taking its place, online shopping is further removing the dream from objects and experiences, abstracting them as interfaces and cutouts devoid of context, shadow or materiality. Furthermore, the permeance of advertising and race for global marketshare, profitability per square foot, and followers on social media has made the shopping experience loud, homogeneous and meaningless.

How far have we drifted from the Parisian arcades and department stores — birthplaces of shopping as we know it — which staged ideas, innovations and novelty products from around the globe, connecting visitors to an expanding world of promise and awe?

Yet browsing arrays of products displayed for our consideration, each the strange conception of mysterious forces of creation and production, can still evoke powerful feelings — both of wonder, as if browsing through a cabinet of curiosities — and of horror, constituting a sinister vision of a labyrinthine world devoid of reason. This polarity, rich in symbolic and sensorial affects, connects our not-so-distant past to a future still in formation, and makes shopping an important frontier for dreaming, speculating about the blending of physical and virtual sensations and experiences.

This issue investigates these dreams and imagines some of their new expressions.

Savinien Caracostea, Editor in Chief