Wednesday, June 1, 2011


This concludes the Parsons Paris course The Real Thing: Luxury & Authenticity in Design.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

21st Century Luxury: Leisure Time

by Andrea Fascinetto

I believe that leisure time will become a future luxury because of the rate that society keeps incrementing work hours and demands in general. Today, in order to succeed in one's field, one must put in more hours than what is asked for. In United States a work week is a minimum of 40 hours (contrary to France, which is only 30 hrs) but most people put in at least 10 hours of over time, if not more. In the fashion world, trends and styles come and go so quickly that it's six months ahead, at the very least. Generally speaking, everyone is thinking ahead to stay ahead, and avoid any problems or create a supply for the overwhelming demand of society. Basically, we are forgoing today for tomorrow, and simply living today to create something for future. By living like this, we no longer have time to take a stroll, or read a book, or even spend time with family and friends. As we, as a society, continue to evolve we will continue to ask and expect more from everything and everyone, and someone will have to put in the hours to make it available. It's hard to imagine that we will have time for anything in the future at the rate we're going.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

21st Century Luxury: Handwriting

by Alexandra Lloyd

Handwriting, particularly copperplate, is already dying out as we send more and more communications verbally with our telephones or as digital messages. Less and less people know cursive, and the handwritten invitation or card is already being seen as something of a lucury due to the extra time that it takes to produce (with time being the ultimate luxury). It is likely that by the end of the century, handwriting will be a skill that very few people have, and with rarity comes exclusivity and an association with luxury. Above is a handwritten Chanel Joaillerie invitation.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Case Study: M/Y RoMa

-->The 62m (203ft) motor yacht RoMa was launched in May 2009, the second “new build” of the recently founded shipyard Viareggio SuperYachts. Listed for sale by Camper & Nicholson for the asking price of 59,500,000 euros, her worth is inestimable to the average person. An example of conspicuous consumption if there ever was one, the superyacht is a luxury experience. At once a lifestyle and an object - a social experience and a physical one.
In Yachts International’s review of the design, the reporter highlights something that fits in to two of Catry's classifications of rarity: technical and natural rarity, fitting into George Hughes' idea that reporters try “to impress the reader of the super luxury character of the yacht by itemizing many of its facilities.”[1] She outlines the process that the ‘Newcruise’ interior design team went through to panel the walls:
The designers started with blocks of Afyon miele marble, which were sliced, labeled and photographed. The NEWCRUISE team then placed each slice strategically to match colors or patterns in guest bathrooms, a time-consuming process that required limitless patience from all, including Technical Project Manager Stefan Zucker of the owners’ team. But the effort resulted in an amazing product with it’s own signature.
The journalist chooses to emphasise the quality of rarity in the interiors; it was again Bernard Catry who suggested that luxury branding sought to link luxury to exclusivity by using the illusionary device that is the idea of “rarity”, saying, “luxury appeal is inevitably diluted by increased market share.” An intense ‘concentration’ is placed in areas that guests will most likely ignore; this intense attention to detail is characteristic of luxury industries - see David Usborne’s profiling of successful hotel tycoon André Balazs-
“He is obsessive about every detail. A bathroom wall must be the right size to take the tiles he has chosen, so none of them has to be cut. That would spoil everything.”

One could extract from this that luxury evolves from a place in which we satisfy more than our basic needs, or even more complex needs- we satisfy superfluous whims. As Mark Tungate replied to me in my interview with him,
“A boat is a waste of both time and money - and thus the ultimate luxury.”
Another of Catry’s categorizations of rarity was present upon the launch of RoMa; Techno- based Rarity. With her steel hull and aluminum superstructure, RoMa built to meet the strictest environmental standards; this was formally acknowledged with an “ES” certification by ABS (Environmental Safety), the first ever issued by ABS for a private yacht. Andrea Mardi of Yacht design says

"Elegance these days comes as part and parcel of a high-tech, green package."
However, what can be seen as some by high tech may not always be so; Boat designer Michael Schutte noted in my interview with him that what the media might push as an innovation can sometimes be simply poor design.

We are all familiar with the “concepts” we see in the magazines every month. Thank feck you can’t go to sea on a jpg, because lots and lots of this stuff is total b********…. There is a good reason why an ocean-going vessel looks the way it does, and that is not because the rest of us are idiots. It’s because we have actually been to sea and know the difference. Bottom line is that fitness for purpose for me defines authenticity in any design. Style by itself is useless. You can get that from any hairdresser. Look at a bic lighter; it is economical to manufacture (and has been in the billions), perfect for its job, and completely without ornament. This is the quintessential authentic design for me.
For Schutte, the idea of conspicuous consumption, fundamental to the “consumption” of superyachts both as an idea and a purchased product, leads to a degradation in the authenticity of design, simply because owner’s do not buy for themselves, but rather as a display of social, cultural and economic capital. If an owner has no interest in the design integrity, then shortcuts will be made in the design process. The client has a huge influence on the outcome of the boat. Luxury in a boat is also a capacity for discretion that is almost impossible to match for the world’s super-rich; where once this could be a double-edged sword, with disconnection from the world, sat-coms mean that owners and crew can now stay as connected as they like anywhere in the world with the wifi, satellite phones, satellite television and navigational software/digital charts. A superyacht offers a very intense customer experience relationship. From obvious preferences, such as food requirements, liquor preferences meal times and itinerary, to the most minor details, the boat adapts itself to the clients; even charter guests who only stay aboard for a week or two. This is achieved through liaisons with charter brokers, secretaries and networks of contacts (in much the same way that concierges at the Ritz Carlton hotel chains will exchange information). In this way, a superyacht mirrors the management of a luxury hotel; Luca Allegri, the manager of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, states during his interview with Mark Tungate:
“All this [referring to physical perfection and pricing] is basic management. At the ultra-luxury level, it’s the human dimension that makes the real difference.”

[1] G. Hughes, “The self, signification and the superyacht.” Leisure Studies 12, no. 4, (October 1993): 253

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

21st Century Luxury: VENICE

Venice is a city in northern Italy known both for tourism and for industry. Slowly and gradually, Venice is sinking. The city sits on marshy land that has lowered by about 11 inches. In recent years, Venice's high water has resulted in an average of 100 floods a year. The increasing sea level is largely a consequence of climate change. The city is known for tourism but I believe that this luxurious city will become excusive because there is a limited amount of time until it will not exist anymore.

21st Century Luxury: Space

The limitedness of space, a future luxury by Octavia Mettenheimer

As the world population rises constantly and exponentially will do so in the future, space will become more and more a luxury. Already now the world is far too overpopulated resulting in all kind of shortages. We managed to flee the scarceness of space so far by building skyscrapers, enlarging the cities, increasing the transportation speed etc. However, there will be a limit to it. Especially the major cities are showing bizarre adaptations to this absolute basic need of life, to have room to live. The prices insanely high, so that no normal-wage person can afford a nice living. The best but most disturbing examples are the cage people of Hong Kong. Because the real estate prices and rents are so high, there is no other possibility for them then literally renting a cage. A 2sqm big box, that is their home. They share what seems to us still as small one-person room, with about 8 people, so that they can afford a housing at all.

Of course Hong Kong is an extreme example however, with increasing urbanization we can expect to see more of those horrible living conditions due to the limitedness of space. To afford an amount of space that can preserve your dignity will become a real luxury in the future. You can be assured that by then only the very rich people will be able to afford a room for each of their children left aside something like a living room or a real kitchen.

21st Century Luxury: Natural Fibers

After the 90s there was a back lash towards synthetic fabrics, and a return to natural fibers such as linen, silk and cashmere, by the mid noughties natural fibers had infiltrated the market with cashmere jumpers appearing in high street stores like M&S and muji, natural fibers have become a sign of quality and luxury, but in the past few years there has been a return by some poignant labels to synthetic fabrics, with names like Giorgio Armani releasing statements before fashion shows about his open use and encouragement of modern synthetics. even designers like Lanvin have in the past used pure synthetics in order to have new and bold fabrics, however the use of natural fibers on the high street, have over stretched the amount the world can produce, meaning that fibers such as chasmere have jumped in price, leading to more and more “mixed fibers” on the market place. Even the increase in natural disasters threw global warming have effected the available stock, such as the devastating floods in pakistan which has impacted the cotton producing industry, and forcing the market price higher, synthetics have now reached a point where there quality and feel make them appropriate for both high and low end areas of the market, whilst the limit in supply of natural fibers threw bad farming and the natural limit on production will make fibers like cotton, wool, cashmere and silk a natural rarity and luxury in the future

an over farmed cashmere farm

21st Century Luxury: A Day Made of Glass


A vision for future luxury... everything tactile. Organizing your daily schedule with a few touches in your bathroom by using your mirror, or even reading a classic novel on a whisper thing piece of glass... What do you think? Is it a luxury?

21st Century Luxury: Enjoying your Job

by Sara Martin

This is Google. And this may be the face of the new workplace. As more and more creative jobs arise, and more and more existing jobs require creativity in the face of an ever growing 'immaterial' industry, the workplace as we know it ceases to function. Workers require more and more autonomy and collaborative opportunities to be successful. 'Large boards are available just about everywhere because 'ideas don't always come when seated in the office' says one of Googles managers.' If technology keeps growing, an infiltrating more and more, it seems this could become protocol. Sir Ken Robinson notes that you can't even persuade those engaging in creative jobs with economy. (We've seen this before with those who resist 'big business' in this class. ie: Louboutin, etc) The focus is in line with luxury in many ways, focusing on quality, and experience, rather than industrial efficiency. I like the idea that your job could be the luxury, instead of what you purchase with the money you make from your job. It's a nice spin, and I think it is a seriously realistic luxury in the 21st.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

21st Century Luxury: "Design Yourself"

In the future, luxury would be considered exclusive designs. Conspicuous consumption influences the appearance of more individualized production. In 20 years time such a thing as personal design would be widely used. The recent example is the individualized design of Louis Vitton bags and wallets, where clients can put personal initials and even choose the colors on the bag. I think this area is not yet developed, although has a lots of potential and as new technology and internet are growing rapidly, the “designing yourself” will be very actual in 20 years time.

One of the possibilities would be something like “Design yourself ” club. Membership Clients can design for Louis Vitton or any other luxury brand by using login in the special Internet program; that can be accessible only for members. The client will get a service- such as advice from one of the designers or team of designers and consulters working only for “Designing yourself “ members. The service will help to understand what the collection inspiration is.

The program will have a wide choice of fabrics, textures, shapes and finishing. However, the elements and range of colors would be limited, according to what colors are used for the Real collection. Element and colors would change every season.

“Design yourself “ would be based on old kids game, when child dresses a paper doll. However it would be more complicated, a there are no ready garments given and “Designer” needs to add the given materials together. By putting all those separate elements, member can create a garment of his own design.

Then the creation is published in the Internet, and accessible to everyone. If the outfit gets voted for, design will be produced and the name of the “designer” will be sign on the tag. There can be a special “Design yourself” section in the shop.

I think this exclusive design would be very interesting and popular, as everyone can announce what he or she wishes to wear. It also will help designers to understand how people would want to look.