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Product Design
Published: 23 Apr 2015

What is Luxury?

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What is Luxury?

New ideas about definitions of luxury are explored in a thought-provoking exhibition at London's Victoria & Albert Museum through examples of high-end design, skilled craftsmanship and conceptual projects.

The exhibition, titled What is Luxury?, runs from April 25 to September 27 and considers the future of luxury through key themes of time, skill and scarcity.

The small but impressively conceived show opens with a range of objects considered luxurious because of their design excellence or craftsmanship. Notable examples include a laser-cut haute couture dress from Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen (whose work features in Super-Smart, part of our Materials Focus 2016-17) and a dandelion seed chandelier by Amsterdam-based Studio Drift.

Some of the most compelling displays explore the future of luxury, particularly in the context of time-pressed 21st-century urban life. Time For Yourself, by London-based designer Marcin Rusak, encourages people to switch off and explore using analogue tools such as a dial-less watch that heats up with the sun and a compass that spins to random co-ordinates.

Resource scarcity is also a key theme. Hair Highway by Anglo-Japanese design studio Studio Swine reimagines human hair as a luxurious yet sustainable material for high-end furniture, while London-based designer Gangjian Cui's The Rise of the Plasticsmith considers a post-industrial future where plastic is considered a rare, sought-after material – see Revaluing Plastic for more.

In Reframing Rare, part of our upcoming Macro Trend New-Era Luxury, we explore how pressure on the world's resources could prompt a shift in our definition of luxury, with once-common goods reframed as rare and precious.

For a first-hand insight into the future of luxury, register to attend our Innovation Forums in New York (April 24) and London (May 7).

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