11 September 2009

The nonsense of luxury

There've been lots of snippets sitting on my desk(top) waiting to be posted through the summer - now's the moment.

Back in 2001, in a Guardian newspaper article reported Rem Koolhaas' collaboration with Prada to design a "flagship" store in the Guggenheim museum in New York. Koolhaas apparently offered this seemingly deep definition of luxury:

Luxury is stability.
Luxury is "waste".
Luxury is generous.
Luxury is intelligent.
Luxury is rough.
Luxury is attention.
Luxury is not "shopping".
I really don't think I know what this all means. I'm certainly unclear why "waste" and "shopping" are scare-quoted. Any thoughts? Is the House of Prada (and the likes) merely a House of Medici for the 21st century? Are there to be no spaces - physical or metaphysical - to be left non-commercial, non-capitalized, unsold? In this regard, I rather liked the journalist's comment
You can see both art and fashion as a form of alchemy. Fashion turns shirts sewn together for pennies in Indonesia into high-ticket, high fashion. Art makes the base metal of canvas, fibre- glass or dead shark meat into the raw material of the auction-room.
Now that I get. That, I, er ... buy.

If there world were a village of 100 ...

10 September 2009

Finally, I have a local branch of Tiffany's!

Economic downtown?

Global recession?

Credit crunch?

Not here in Seattle, it seems.

Not at my local shopping "mall" at least.

Under conspicuous (as in conspicuous consumption) wraps for several months now, a new branch of the high-end jewelery store Tiffany's has just opened at the already pretty frew-frew (spelling?) University Village down the road from the university where I work.

In the Seattle Times from last week, we read that Tiffany's chose the U Village as a site for their new store because of Seattle's "independent spirit and sophisticated sense of style." Now that's just plain sycophantic! But here's the best bit (also from the store manager): the store is apparently "designed to let people explore and play a little bit with their own style." I guess like the kind of exploring people evicted from their poorly-financed, poorly brokered homes must be doing right now, huh?

On a related matter, my colleague Christine Harold also drew my attention to this rather nice (disturbing?) blogged piece titled Design Scorecard: Who's Winning and Losing the Recession? I particularly liked these two observations:

The economy may come back, but the appetite for limited-edition gold-painted centerpieces and hand-molded clay dining chairs will not.

The lust for design porn didn't disappear; it just migrated to design blogs such as Apartment Therapy, Materialicious, and Remodelista where houses, rooms, and furnishings are shown in a more personable, less institutional tone than magazines.
Design porn. Love it!