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Parsons School of Design MFA Lighting Design program theses2016 (PC020404.15) ➔ Me, Myself And Her: Self Perception And Lighting In Retail Environments


Related people/organizations

Selin Ergeneli (designer)
Monica Herman (thesis advisor)




Mirrors and lighting have played a role in self-image that dates back to the Renaissance. Although mirrors reflect an objective image of “reality”,what each individual sees in the mirror is extremely subjective and based on a number of psychological, sociological and environmental factors.

Retail environments, especially fitting rooms, are often designed to provide the most “flattering” environmental conditions for their customers when they are trying on clothes. These most flattering conditions are created through a commonly-practiced lighting strategy that tries to reduce the shadows, flesh out warm tones of the skin, colors of clothings and be complementary to the customer overall. Self-image, however is not solely comprised by outward appearance. It is the person in the fitting room with all of his or her thoughts about the self that creates a miscellaneous relationship between the item for purchase, the mirror, and the individual. Thus the question becomes does this “perfect” lighting condition manage to address the complexity of self-image or is it only a surface treatment? The complex relationship of self perception and fitting rooms creates an opportunity for retail lighting design to go beyond its common objective and create an experiential retail environment that will try to emphasize a philosophy of being and bring a new meaning to how people perceive themselves. This thesis will focus on implementing this lighting theory for Kenzo, a brand with an innovative and profoundly psychological approach toward fashion, the latest campaigns for which aims to “take people on a mysterious journey to an unfamiliar world, a place where the ordinary is slightly distorted and mirrors lead to other dimensions.” The experience of visiting high-end retail environments specifically is very important in creating a positive connection between a brand and a consumer and my aim with this thesis is to provide a thoughtful retail experience for Kenzo that communicates the brand’s amusing and delicate approach to self-perception through lighting design.

This thesis will try to define the sense of self in a retail environment by taking the customers through a self-perception journey that will be created by self realization moments with the use of the convoluted relationship of lighting and mirrors.



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