Having worked on so many luxury design and branding projects, we’re proud to call ourselves experts in luxury branding. When I was assigned to attend a luxury exhibition, I found myself truly inspired by how differently luxury is perceived now compared to in the past.
Luxury undoubtedly has the potential to unlock dreams of being somewhere else or someone else. For hundreds of years, luxury has been the representation of wealth, social class and power. Therefore, the acquisition of luxury objects has always fulfilled aspirations.
Unlike common perception, luxury has not been associated with clothing and accessories until recently. You might find it hard to believe, but on my recent trip to the V&A’s What Is Luxury exhibition I uncovered many luxury mysteries and challenged the value of luxurious goods.
I was surprised to see how objects at the exhibition 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. Find out more here, in the V&A’s exhibition notes.
For example, this piece is a crystal-studded monkey, which sits upon a gilded chest. (Is he really protecting his treasures or is he perhaps stealing from it?) This lavishly decorated sculpture is a playful metaphor of desire and ownership, wealth and power.
The crown at the left is recognised as a luxurious treasure. It was given to the church of São Lourenço de Azeitão near Lisbon by the Portuguese royal family. Made in the fashionable Rococo style, the gift was a flamboyant and generous gesture of power and taste as well as of faith.
Another section of the exhibition hosted objects that designers and artists think are the future of luxury. The main aim of these pieces was not to predict but to reflect on current conditions and possible alternatives. Interestingly, plastic is believed to be the next “luxury” in the future due to new alternatives being created that make plastic less popular.
By the end of the exhibition, I had managed to figure out the answer to the question posed when I walked in – so what is luxury? I guess it is up to each of us as it is very personal. Everyone decides for himself or herself what their own luxury would be. Enjoying or affording luxury is not only a question of budget but of individual circumstances and preferences.
Have you been to this exhibition? What are your thoughts on it? Share them with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.