Less but better
We hear more and more that the younger generations are less interested in purchasing and owning things. They prefer to spend their money on experiences. Self-improving holidays, culture, live performances, eating out, eating in, yoga retreats, hiking Machu Picchu. While forensically documenting it all on social media of course. This naturally has been sending shock waves through the luxury industries. If this continues, soon nobody will be buying their products – no matter how good they are or how seductive their marketing campaigns.
But I beg to differ. I really don’t see that the love of experiences is at odds with the appreciation of well-designed, well-made goods. They are far from mutually exclusive. The stuff that surrounds the experience is still significant, if not more so. The enjoyment of a good wine is enhanced by the experience of drinking it from fine glassware. The rustle of tissue paper when you take out a new pair of socks is a pleasurable experience. Quality luggage – that should last a lifetime – makes your journey that much more pleasurable and, like your favourite watch or piece of jewellery, with time will be imbued with meaningful memories. The best stores, the bricks and mortar sort, now offer their own sort of experiential high; part art gallery, lecture hall, social space but always dedicated to enhancing the act of retail consummation.
Of course, we all now understand the endorphin surge, the quick chemical hit, of buying stuff. ‘Unboxing’ videos go viral as we enjoy the vicarious thrill of watching other people unpeel the packaging off buried treasures. And Apple and others have redefined the art and science of cellophane and cardboard boxes, given them extraordinary levels of care and attention. But the best brands, their designers, makers and craftsmen, know that a great product has to keep delivering on an experiential level, to become part of the way we do things and enjoy things, change our behaviours and enhance our experiences.
I’m optimistic about the future of the businesses and industries that we continue to champion in Wallpaper*. This more thoughtful, well-educated and conscientious consumer is a good thing. They may well buy a little less, but they’ll be buying better. Less but better, to quote Dieter Rams, is the way forward.
Clockwise from top left, a Rimowa suitcase (page 130); the ‘Galop’ bag, by Hermès (page 079); John Lobb’s seamless shoes (page 095); and the bespoke watch designed by Laps for Wallpaper* (page 096)
Photography: Brigitte Niedermair
Fashion: Isabelle Kountoure
Dress, price on request, by Loewe. For full credits, see page 162
Wallpaper* is printed on UPM Star, upm.com
Limited-edition cover by Lorna Simpson
US artist Simpson created our special collaged covers,
Older Queen and Adrift. See interview, page 104
Limited-edition covers are available to subscribers, see Wallpaper.com