Features Newswire

The Future of Luxe: Diverse, Accessible and Eco-Conscious

What it means for something to be “luxury” has dramatically changed over the years.

Formerly, true luxury wasn’t easily obtained; it was reserved for the ultra-wealthy, perhaps even only the generationally wealthy. However, today the word has morphed into something a bit different.

Today, luxe has become highly segmented, highly subjective across cultures and without question more present and accessible in our society. Our constant exposure to luxury via imagery, even through social media, has provided means to achieve it without being overly extravagant.

Money is useful, obviously, but one can still achieve a level of luxury with a limited budget, and that projection of luxury can reflect different demographics and cultures. One no longer needs be a multimillionaire to create what is perceived as an ultra-chic and aspirational environment. This keen aesthetic vision permeates all applications of design, whether retail design, fashion/apparel, resort or home design. It’s everything.

Luxury has taken on a new meaning because you can deliver products that exude luxe but are executed in a more pragmatic way. But this doesn’t mean our jobs have become simpler. The combination of different cultures, new generations and changing expectations is creating tremendous challenges — and opportunities — for luxury designers and architects.

The Interpretation of Luxury Differs Across Cultures
True luxury is to be able to identify and deliver products to the end user that they will perceive as ultra-luxury. There’s not just one way of achieving this. If I’m executing a work for somebody in Abu Dhabi or in Dubai, or somebody in London or in New York, the perception of luxury changes drastically.

Ultra-luxury, at least in the architectural and design realm, is being able to deliver exquisite and well-appointed environments that resonate with the specific market you are relating to and with the lifestyles the individuals are living in the different areas.

In the Middle East or Russia, luxury is very opulent and lavish; it borrows from the very high-end retail environment and brands. It is highly energetic, whimsical and assertive. In New York City, and in the East Coast in general, the style is more tempered, effortless and understated. The clients have everything but no need to show it.

Hotels & Residences Moving Toward Each Other
In Asia or the Middle East, what people are trying to achieve with villas and mansions is to create their own resort. High-end world travelers develop an affinity for specific elements that are a part of their experience. So, your design inspiration can be more serene and Zen, inspired by places like Aman resorts, for example, or rich and flamboyant, like a Jean-Georges: old-world style, with rich chandeliers, exotic railings and marble stairs.

But ultra-luxury has evolved quite rapidly in the past two decades, responding to a market that wants to allow that personal sense of luxury — even if you are not the owner of the particular environment. We can see that luxury is pervading more and more of our everyday life. An example is multifamily, mixed-use residential, which went from basic to highly luxurious and highly amenitized. You are creating a vertical resort for those individuals.

Multi-residential housing has borrowed from the hospitality world, and in the same way, hospitality is borrowing from the residential world. Hospitality does not want the hotel to feel sterile and utilitarian. So, you have this new development of the “lifestyle hotel,” like the Edition Hotels or the W, where you can live in and create a connection with the spirit of the place through the realm of the art, design, food and the package of experiences offered there.

It’s worth noting that now, ultra-luxury is defined not only by how places look but also by how they feel. Comfort is paramount: ultra-plush mattresses and duvets, multifunction or rain showerheads and smart thermostats.

Guests also want the conveniences of home, such as ports and outlets for a variety of devices.

Meeting the Expectations of Younger Generations
Luxury has been borrowing from many worlds. An example of this is a product called Barrisol, a membranous finish application for ceilings, which originally was intended to be used in operating rooms. This inert product does not develop any kind of bacteria, and suddenly you see it everywhere: swimming pool ceilings, museums, private homes. The availability of unique materials is unlimited.

This kind of innovation and evolution is critical now. Every brand in hospitality is questioning themselves. They are all trying to find the right ingredient to go to the next level.

As a quick example, think about Tulum, Mexico, which is almost a hospitality lab. The millennial and the younger generation are looking for something very organic. People are looking for places that are not “glitz” but nature-driven, where they can simply rest — absolute paradise.

The aesthetic has changed its entire vocabulary to be able to address these different markets. At the forefront, a hotel that is sustainable and more ecologically responsible is a new thing that people are perceiving as luxury. Many existing hoteliers will utilize products that are plant-based.

Luxury is a combination of many things. I ultimately think the new generation are lucky because they can have luxury without spending millions of dollars. I think that luxury in the commercial world has a place for a diversity of people. Luxe, ultimately, is not really about the price tag but what makes people feel good.