Another exhibition at the V&A: What is luxury?
This exhibition interrogates how luxury is made and understood. Luxury has a long history of controversy. More recently, the increase in prominence and growth of luxury brands against the backdrop of social inequality has raised new questions about what the term means to people today. Changes in culture and communication have also stimulated interest in less tangible forms of luxury, such as the desire for space and time. What is luxury? frames works by designers, makers and artists using a selection of terms in order to engage with and expand upon current debate. It addresses the production of exceptional objects, which demonstrate an extraordinary investment in time and hand making. It explores how attitudes to luxury are shaped by cultural concerns and personal dreams. It challenges preconceived notions of value and provides an opportunity for thinking about the future of luxury in the 21st century.
Luxury production represents an investment in time. This applies not only to the time spent making an object but also to the process of perfecting skills. Makers of luxury are inspired by passion and curiosity for the intricate nature of objects, the potential of materials, and complex techniques. This motivation often exists beyond market demands and can require an acceptance or risk.
Making luxury is not concerned with practical solutions but with the extraordinary, non-essential and exclusive. Mastery of a craft and exceptional expertise are demonstrated by outstanding precision, attention to detail and remarkable finishes. Such quality is achieved by challenging and broadening established standards of craftsmanship and accepted categories of design. The resulting work combines high levels of innovation with a respect for craft traditions.
Luxury has the potential to unlock dreams of being somewhere else or someone else. It exists at the boundaries of daily routines and systems but relies on notions of breaking out.
The acquisition of luxury objects has always fulfilled aspirations. In a busy and intrusive world, people increasingly value time and space for enjoying special moments and extraordinary experiences. Contemporary designers engage with how the availability of time and space, and quality of time spent, can be seen as luxuries in their own right.
Designers and artists speculate about the future not with the aim to predict but rather to reflect on current conditions and possible alternatives. The projects in this section rethink what luxury means today and how it might be defined in the future.
These speculations address the fundamental relationship between luxury and value. Rather than being constant and predictable, perceptions of value vary. They are driven by market forces, rooted in cultural conventions and subject to legislation and corruption. The fictional scenarios presented here subvert notions of value, introducing artificial, common, overlooked, distant and even condemned materials and theirs contexts. By doing this they challenge the relationship between luxury and materials which are commonly understood to be precious and rare.
The question of luxury is ultimately a personal one. Everyone decides for themselves what their luxury could be. Enjoying or affording luxury is not only a question of budget but of individual circumstances and preferences.
Freedom to dream and the ability to take decisions are fundamental to enjoying luxury. These principles of freedom and choice are central to the thesis of an ongoing project, The Last Man. It imagines a situation in which an individual finds himself alone in the world but with all of its ressources intact. Free from obligation, economics, politics, fashion, society and the constraints of time, the last man gamely begins to design and build his own material world, reflecting his dreams and desires.
This is the big question. What is luxury? The term has been democratized. Moreover luxury has become very common in a way, indeed, people access luxury brands through their beauty lines for example. This is brand extension in order to allow people to be part of the club somehow. There isn’t one specific definition of it. Indeed it is perceived differently by everyone. This entire blog is dedicated to this notion that has changed over the past decade. Every single one of the articles has something to do with it. It helps understanding how large it can be. From health to money, through time, family, friends, … You are the only one who can drive your life in a given direction.
This is just a part of what luxury can be, but you will discover more though the upcoming posts, this is way I am not going to unveil everything! Keep it up, cheers!