‘The Space of Luxury’ 

Journal of Design, Business & Society, Volume 5.2, published by Intellect

Editor: Shaun Borstrock, University of Hertfordshire

This second In Pursuit of Luxury special issue for the Journal of Design, Business & Society continues to explore the notion of luxury, including its evolving meanings, and applications within a contemporary context.

The theme for this addition is centred around the space of luxury and has emerged from the In Pursuit of Luxury conference. The invitation to interpret ‘space’ in this context includes considering the physical, digital and philosophical environments that impact on and concern luxury. In response, each author addresses the inconsistencies around the definition, promotion and role of luxury.

Since defining luxury continues to elicit problems and inconsistencies, as is evidenced in the continually expanding and changing definitions, it has become apparent that in a contemporary context defining a product as luxury has increasingly become a term used to add value regardless of product category and/or quality. What we have seen, and indeed continue to see, is an attempt, not only by manufacturers, retailers and commentators but marketers as well, to attribute the word ‘luxury’ to almost anything that adds value, and in turn has the ability to increase sales. Inaccessible luxury, intermediate luxury, accessible luxury, absolute luxury, aspirational luxury, masstige, prestige and premium are all examples of the terminology used to define luxury products and services.

It could be said that luxury is in a state of flux or possibly under erasure. This could be seen to be problematic as reclassifying all types of goods as luxury diminishes the value of the historically very clear boundaries and definitions that defined luxury within a framework of connoisseurship and scarcity and set it apart from other goods. 

What has emerged from the articles in this special issue is that luxury is no longer necessarily referring to the product but rather perceptions thereof. As luxury is understood as something unique and or even special, it is interesting to read how diverse each of the authors’ interpretation and understanding of luxury is. The articles also reveal how the appropriation of the term elevates, or conversely demotes, meaning while in some instances adds value within this varied landscape.

Themes include:

  • The language of luxury
  • The digital and physical spaces of luxury
  • Technology and luxury
  • Art and luxury
  • History of Luxury
  • Fashion and luxury

The second issue: 5.2 ‘The Space of Luxury’ is available here

The first issue: 4.2 ‘Producing Luxury’ is available here