Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Luxury, Authenticity & Communication

Above filmmaker Jim Jarmusch supports creative copying. If there is one area where imitation is more freely accepted it is communication design because the end product is not a good so to speak in the same way a bag or clothing item is copied and re-sold.

Below is an example of problematic mass communication design. It aims to reach the widest public audience for a free event.

The crowded text and multi-colors oppose the tenants of luxury communication design, which instead aim for an exclusive, asset class client with minimalist, often monochromatic aesthetics.

Fashion invitations are a great case study in luxury communication design. Above the luxury communication design standard, high quality white paper with engraved printing. The invitations are top quality but aesthetically limited. Below Dior's use of color.

Above and below Chanel couture invitations honor historic elements such as Coco's lion and the original showroom arch.

Above Galliano's inventive forms from animal skin, to film prop, to Charlie Chaplin handkerchief are each reflective of the research inspiration themes of the collections. Below architectural invitation forms for Prada have been designed in partnership with OMA.

Vibrant color in these examples does not take away from the luxury detail. Above Gucci, Kenzo and Miu Miu and below Moschino. Creative Director Rosella Jardini explains: “The invite for a Moschino Show is an introduction. A foreword to a story that the Fashion Show will tell. I think since the beginning of our history the invite has been a short explanation that puts the guest at ease: it is like when you invite somebody to dinner, it hints at what is to come. It is in this way that the invite is very important, because it gives in advance details that will be unveiled during the fashion show as part of the collection itself.”

Above personal touches of Yoji Yamamoto's hand tied bow and Viktor & Rolf's hand written invite bring a level of customization that is a luxury value.

Antwerp trained designers Martin Margiela above and Dries Van Noten below use a variety of forms to challenge the conventional aesthetics, more playful for Margiela and formal for Van Noten.

Below the Spring 2011 Van Noten invitation made reference to accessories in the collection.

Can a label make a product? The answer is yes in the case of Diptyque.

The three Diptyque founders were originally in the fabric business then started making scented candles and perfumes with labels by artist founder Desmond Knox-Leet. The labels then gave the otherwise colorless, glass contained candles a recognizable personality recalling French art nouveau.

Today the labels are designed by artist team Kuntzel & Deygas who has also created communication for Colette and bring added value to the communication design by also being exhibiting artists.

In addition to the label, the packaging and store design of Diptyque represent essential luxury values - minimal, monochromatic forms of quality materials. Restraint is essential to luxury, aligned to the aspects of control and beauty.

Packaging is an enormous investment for luxury companies as it is seen as an extension of communication design.Luxe Pack is a global event, taking place in Monaco in Europe that brings together the best in luxury companies with the best in packaging. Below an innovative Gaultier fragrance package that contained a musical component.

Luxury companies are slowly combining web, lookbooks and campaigns to one unified communication platform. The website becomes a portal into promotional materials and unveiling shows, collections and creative materials. Above YSL gives direct coverage of the shows and below archives ad campaigns, previous collections and history.

The decline of print is the rise of mobile digital - Luxury companies are now seeking the greatest growth through hand held devices (see the Digital Agenda). Above luxury apps for the iPhone and below for iPad.

Finally another common luxury communication strategy is silence. Some brands, such as those below, choose to do limited to no advertising at all. They allow their services to communicate, in a gesture of genuine authenticity. They also host websites for global consumers. Chopard's communication director states, "our customers say please don't advertise." See more on alternative luxury communications here.

Common Elements of Web Design in Luxury Brands

What is Luxury ? The "Bling Bling " of expensive goods or a certain lifestyle this products give to us?
Brands of Luxurious Products count on their customer and creates the web sites, that are visually promising a Luxurious lifestyle. Colors, Pictures of beautiful women and places- this all reminds us about Luxury.

The advertising playing with our mind and calling to experience the dream life we see on the picture.
Here are some similarities in the Luxurious Web sites, were noticed by the author:
1. Colors : black, white and gray;
2. Main Website area on some solid background;
3. Website working area in the middle of the page in a rectangle;
4. Menu above and below the main content, usually in small font.

In addition, most of the websites are minimalistic, decorated with a beautiful font, shows and advertise the whole concept of the lifestyle, yet very simple approach and exclusive light design. Often touched with a precise details.

Although the author does not mention red, this color is in almost every website he shows. Somewhere less, somewhere, like Cartier- red is the main color.

The Luxe effect -Lux Pack Monaco2008

The Luxe Pack Monaco 2008 in Monte Carlo ran in the same time with TFWA show in Cannes. The enormous number of visitors and exhibitors with latest innovations bit the record of the show success.
The exhibition of Luxurious Packaging was presenting new products as well as talking about issues of Luxury, crisis and sustainable and economical solutions and also , imaginary trends. The Pan European Design Association's annual congress discussed sustainable packaging development and focussed on high tech solutions. Designer Marc Rosen proposed an idea what Glamour is in the future.
Economical situation and influence of crisis on Luxury and Luxury Packaging was dominantly discussed on the show. Exhibitors said that they were limited in producing usual quantity of products because of the economical situation in 2008. Although changes to be made, exhibitors tried and stayed positive and some considered the fact that customers did not have any changes in their business so far. “The more expensive products may be hit as what becomes more expensive becomes less affordable to consumers,”- added designer Dieter Bakic. Some of the optimistic exhibitors offered a whole concepts of the new economical packaging . Alcan promoted beauty solution- all for cosmetics and said that method is more important, then a product itself.
The other popular trend was a sustainable and environmentally friendly packaging and developing of materials such as bamboo ,MDF bond with organic binders , PET and 100% PCR for Virgin Packaging concepts. The attention was drawn to a recycled packaging. “Customers want new fabrics, recyclable materials – it is almost a given now. PVC is not really used at all and customers don’t really ask for this now, "- said Bringant. Words Bio and Organic were the key words of the exhibition.
Lastly, the new packaging of deodorants and creams promised to fit to a purse and be more compact, specially for brands, who needs to be recognized soon , as the market is not busy in this area yet.
The show is so special and successful , because of it's great number of creative and inspiring packaging designers and innovators.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Friday, March 25, 2011

3 Perspectives on Authenticity in Design

Above, clearly inauthentic communication design creates a sense of the real even though the consumer knows it is an imitation. The writer Michael Beirut explains that this somehow works for us, he defends that "Although we hunger for authenticity, it's a hard thing to invent overnight. But that doesn't stop us from trying." Read the full article here.

In this perspective the same author Beirut explains an important book Quintessence which covers a number of authentic goods that have the real thing "it factor." Items include branded goods like the Steinway piano and modern cultural goods like the Martini. Read the article here. This book was re-released in 2001, see it here.

In this point of view, author John Cantwell explains how the large Stymie Extra Bold logo on the Trump Tower was a self-made myth of authenticity. "Maybe Trump understood he was destined to exist more as an idea than a person, to be adjective and noun." Read more here.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Return of the Real

In some cases, only the real thing will do. The original desk used by Marie Antoinette was recently purchased from a private dealer for return to Versailles. The total cost was 6.75 million Euros and made possible with support from LVMH and pharmaceutical giant Sanofi-Aventis. The desk in the photos is a similar piece currently on display in the Maria Antoinette apartment. Photos of the original have not yet been released. Read the full story here.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Real Artist

Check out these photos of artist Daniel Bejar. They are both artists named Daniel Bejar. On the left is Vancouver musician Daniel Bejar and on the right is New York conceptual artist Daniel Bejar who, as one of his art works, is embodying the same style as the musician and re-creating similar photos to circulate on the internet. Read the full story here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Louis Vuitton Copyright Infringement

In 2007, Nadia Plesner began making her work about Darfur, with proceeds benefitting the struggle. The depiction of a Louis Vuitton type bag in one shocking image resulted in a lawsuit for copyright infringement. Plesner then created a foundation to increase awareness of issues but this year the hacker group Anonymous has decided to use this incident to leverage a full targeted attack on Louis Vuitton, both online and in society at large, see more here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Art & Authenticity

How do we know if anything is real? What is considered reality is what is agreed upon by most, such as gravity. Yet consensus does not always mean that something is real. Plato argued about the shadows on the cave and the subjectivity of representation. Art is always representation and this means, to some degree, art is never the real thing.

Magritte, 1929

The idea of art and authenticity was originally vary vague. Around 500 BC decorated vases began to be highly traded in Greece and the creators marked their work by name, establishing authenticity. Amasis painter and Ekekias were the first to sign their pottery, seen below. The naming has made their vases the most highly valued in museum collections today.

Signing paintings did not become popular until much later, at the time of Giotto in Italy in the 14th century. Later Italian writer Vasari coined the term Renaissance and wrote about the lives of artists, making Michelangelo and Da Vinci famous and encouraging them to use their names. See the archive of artist's signatures here.

Certain artists have been associated with copies. Rembrandt had a large studio who regularly copied his work. As a result there were at first thought to be 600 Rembrandts in museums, which more recently was reduced to 300. Dali was also associated with copies when a truck in the Spanish mountains was discovered full of signed blank canvases. Like Rembrandt, Dali also had assistants who made works, most notably Isidor Bea who claims to have created all of Dali's large scale works. Read more here.

The Last Supper by Dali or Isodor Bea...?

Below the Dali's work Christ St John of the Cross has been the subject of a major copyright battle. The museum, which profits from reproducing the image on postcards is suing many companies that reproduced the image on souvenirs and album covers as below. The museum seemed concerned about the work of art in the same way a fashion company is concerned about it's brand. They stated "It's an issue of the image being reproduced in an appropriate manner. We don't want to see tacky goods having the image on them." Read more here.

Warhol used reproduction as a basis for his work, making many works in series. A version of the self-portrait below from 1967 sold in February 2011 for 17 million.

Below artist Felix Gonzales-Torres made works of art out of mass produced objects, that in many cases could be taken away part by part by gallery visitors such as the candy below.

Street art is often anonymous and it's gesture of imitation is overlooked. However since street artists have become more popular with recognizable tags and names their work is under scrutiny. Both images below, left by Shepard Fairey and right by Mr. Brainwash, were based on photographs and the artists were sued for the reproductions.

Like fashion, there are also many art works inspired by originals, such as below.

What is interesting about the copy above by David LaChapelle, and below by Star Wars fans, is that while Benjamin argued that the copy reduces the aura of the original due to connection to context, here we get a new relevancy. The original art is changed in such a way it makes sense only to the contemporary audiences.

Copyright covers the form of something (a printed version, an image) but not the idea. The form is protected in the US for the life of the creator plus 70 years. There are many allowances for fair use (such as teaching and creative adaptations) and the law is intentionally gray to allow case by case judgements. The most common cases concern images reproduced for profit. Last year the modern art museum in Paris hosted an exhibition featuring only creative copies of iconic original works of art. See more here.

The authorities on authenticity are the auction houses Sotheby's and Christie's. The two houses manage blue chip investment art and have divisions for assessing art authenticity and value.

The highest valued pieces sold are $151 million, Jackson Pollock, No. 5, sold through Sotheby’s and $149 million, de Kooning, Woman III, sold through Gagosian.

Christie's recently launched the first branded authenticity division. The Gucci Collector site provides value assessment and sales management.

Below the fashion brands function like artist signatures and all evoke different auras. The auras have become ideas of their originality, their personalities so to speak, more than any tangible aspect.

Louis Vuitton has been presenting art along with fashion which some suggest has commercialized the work. The art as a real thing becomes art as an instrumental thing, to promote the values of the luxury house.

One of the most interesting investigations into art and the real was F for Fake by Orson Welles. Below art forger Elmyr de Hory with his biographer Clifford Irving. See an explanation of the film here.