Luxury in the Age of Technology
Luxury, innovation and technology have always been intertwined. Whether it be through the manufacturing techniques developed during the eighteenth century or the emergence of digital processes that impact on design, craftsmanship and production today. Circular economic models address the need to be aware of the impact of our actions on the production of goods and services. Technology continues to influence our lives and decision making processes. Data driven information informs and enhances our understanding of the customer and can provide goods and services to address their needs. This is in contrast to mass produced ‘services’ that through global portals contradict the very nature of customisation.
It could be said that manufacturing and craftsmanship was, and remains, a critical component of how luxury is defined. But is the impact of digital technologies changing our understanding of what luxury means today? Should the notion of luxury be adapted / re-examined? What form should it take that reflects and reacts to the continued advancements in technological processes, opportunities and services?
Current concerns that need addressing include consumption and waste and the impact of our actions on the planet, health and well-being, equality and change. An emphasis on corporate social responsibility has enabled the tracking and tracing of finished goods and the materials used in their construction, their environmental impact and the well-being of those involved in production as the industry becomes more transparent. Can luxury therefore continue to remain aloof?
The luxury customer has historically demanded the best. But now customers are also demanding transparency, traceability and accountability. Through recognition of how mass consumption is fouling the environment we are beginning to better understand the importance of circular practice within the supply chain. Technology can and is being instrumental in organising and defining this new world order. And as artificial intelligence becomes common place and aids our decision making process, how long will it take to decide that the exponential growth of luxury is not the most effective or efficient course of action?
Advances in technology continue to challenge the status-quo where innovation takes precedence and forces change. This change is keenly balanced with traditional craftsmanship and skill. How do these two concepts converge in a market that is both becoming increasingly demanding and disparate? Some, if not all of these issues are pertinent and possibly contentious. With this in mind we welcome papers that will contribute to debate and discussion around luxury, innovation and technology.
We welcome papers that explore links between luxury and technology in all product and service categories including manufacture, on-line including e-commerce, marketing and the virtual luxury experience, bespoke product, design, materials and innovation.
The 2020 conference provides a platform to continue to expand our understanding of luxury. As with previous conferences we welcome contributions from various disciplines and practices including automotive, architecture, engineering, fashion, product, digital design, retail, hospitality – all of which explore luxury through a critical lens to encourage debate.
Themes and Strands
This conference intends to expand the parameters of the debate around the concepts of luxury to provide a refreshing context to construe the familiar debates surrounding the subject.
Indicative themes for the conference are:
- Digital technology
- The digital environment craft and the handmade
- Responsive environment and sensing
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence
- Social responsibility
- Social inclusion
- Wasted luxury
- Tracking and mapping
- Branding, marketing and communication
- Consumption and consumer attitudes
- The retail environment
- Fashion film
For information about the organisers click here
Shaun Borstrock, Associate Dean – Business Innovation and Projects launched the second Spaces of Luxury competition following on from the successful collaboration with Prada and Yale School of Management last year. This project is at its heart design led and explores the notion of luxury within a confined, moving space – a private jet. Students were required to devise a concept for an interior of an Airbus CJ319 through an understanding of luxury, technology, materials and the limitations of space ‘in the skies’ to spectacular effect.
‘Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) offers the most modern and comprehensive corporate jet family in the world, giving customers the greatest choice of unique, customizable and spacious cabins allowing them to select the comfort they want in the size they need – offering them a unique flying experience.’
‘Because every detail matters, ACJ (Airbus Corporate Jets) lets its customers fully customize the aircraft’s interiors and build their perfect home in the sky: make your choice among pre-defined cabin concepts or customize your Airbus corporate jet to your exact needs.’
The idea of luxury within this context is pursued through an intrinsic understanding of the diversity and demands of different types of customers, their individual needs and how design will make a positive impact on their flying experience.
The challenge was to provide solutions that address the need to be both innovative and creative, creating a luxurious environment where detail is of the utmost importance no matter how big, small or intricate. 15 students were selected by a panel of experts including Eric Jullien-David, Deputy VP Commercial, Airbus Corporate Jets, Sylvain Mariat, Head of Creative Design, Airbus Corporate Jets and staff from the School of Creative Arts to develop their design concepts for Airbus. The students had to opportunity to visit the Airbus factory in Toulouse, see the production line of an Airbus A320 and A350 in action and experience a private jet and full scale models of all Airbus commercial aircraft.
Interior concept design for the Airbus ACJ319 by Max Gyte
Silvio Carta, Head of Design says ‘This project has been a great opportunity for all the students to take up the challenge set out by a world-leading company like Airbus. Students and colleagues involved in this initiative had the opportunity to fly to Toulouse to see the assembly line of some of the commercial models and some mock-ups of the corporate jets. We talked with the chief designer and the director of Marketing. Projects like this offer students the unique chance to work with global companies on very high-standard projects. A great experience for everybody!’
Interior Architecture and Design student, Jennifer Raderschadt says ‘the visit to the Airbus Factory has shown me how versatile a career in interior architecture can be and I am so glad the university provided this opportunity for us’
Rojin Ghajar – MA Product Design: ‘Visiting Airbus really helped me to have a better understanding of the space and luxury needs for our clients. I felt honoured to have this opportunity to show my skills as a designer and thought me more than I expected to learn on that day, definitely looking forward to do more on this amazing project.’
Sanjivni Gupta – MA Interior Architecture and Design The trip to Airbus was an experience of a lifetime. It was really great to realise the scale of the plane and know how deeply and minutely the spaces can be utilised.’
Camila Fernholz – Interior Architecture and Design: ‘It felt like one of the most fascinating playgrounds for interior designers! Shows you that when it comes to interior designing, the sky is the limit!’
Amanda Levitchi – Interior Architecture and Design: ‘I believe visiting Airbus was exciting and the trip helped me gain a deeper understanding of what goes on in the process of designing the interior of a plane and how the airplane is put together. Overall, I really enjoyed the visit and I would love to do it again.’
Petra Razoare – Interior Architecture and Design: ‘My experience at the Airbus factory was an eye opener into the actual manufacturing world of an aircraft. The overall environment was breath-taking as it showed the amount of work and dedication that one airplane needs.’
In South Africa, the class, working with Dr. Shaun Borstrock, Professor Mark Bloomfield, and Nick Lovegrove and students from the University of Hertfordshire, will be confronting one of the most vexing problems currently facing that country: water scarcity. Cape Town is heading toward “Day Zero”—projected for June 4—when the city is expected to exhaust its water supply after a nearly three-year drought. Multidisciplinary student teams from Helfand’s course will travel to Cape Town during spring break in March to work on water-related projects with hospitals, hotels, elder care facilities, townships, and wealthier suburbs. The collaboration includes a number of workshops where all students, working in teams will study the problem and devise a range of possible design solutions. The teams will base their work on first-hand experiences gained on site through a series of surveys and observational studies.
The Second International ‘In Pursuit of Luxury’ conference; a collaborative project between The School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and LIM took place at LIM College in New York on May 6, 2016 and presented an ambitious premise: “to provide [the] opportunity for academia and industry to come together to discuss issues that [have] a key impact on the global luxury brand market.” Structured as an interdisciplinary forum of experts whose work aims at expanding our understanding of the context of luxury, the conference was dotted with panels of business professionals
whose presence interrupted the spindrift of academic writing with a dose of realism and a pragmatic snapshot of the contemporary luxury consumer.