Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

Luxury and mounting

The person who personally guided me in the academic research trends of Luxury and mounting recently passed away due to illness. My name is Alessandro Brun, and I used to teach luxury business at the Business School of the Polytechnic University of Milan. He is also introduced in “ 10 Lectures on the Economy Generated by New Luxury Culture

”. It all started when I asked a friend of mine who teaches business administration at the same university, “I’d like to know more about luxury business research, so could you introduce me to Mr. Brun?” The first time we met was at a seafood restaurant near the university. After we briefly introduced ourselves over lunch, the first thing he said to me was a casual comment that had a huge impact on how I thought about luxury.

“To put it in an extreme way, the luxury market of this century was created by the Milan office of the American strategic consulting firm Bain & Company.’

‘ “Luxury” was created strategically. This fact made me find this field extremely interesting.

The Epicenter of Luxury and mounting in the 21st Century?

Political and religious powers, the emerging bourgeoisie, and others have sought luxury in different ways depending on the era. In the second half of the 20th century, Japanese people, mainly those working in European companies founded in the 19th century, began to realize that there were business opportunities in luxury. I was aware that this was the catalyst for the birth of French conglomerates, but the epicenter of luxury in this century was elsewhere.

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

It struck me intuitively that the accumulation of some kind of profound time was not a “required condition for luxury”… It was a field where everyone had the opportunity to become involved.

To be more precise, I would say that Claudia Dalpizzio, who leads the luxury and fashion team at Bain & Company’s Milan office, has made a major contribution. She later heard her presentation several times and also had the opportunity to speak directly with her right-hand man, Federica Verato.

Once you understand the types of people who have been driving the luxury business this century, you will have a better idea of ​​where to set your destination. In this respect, Brun’s points became the starting point for my activities.

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

He also provided a luxury orientation, also known as a private lesson. What key points should I pay attention to? What articles and books should I read? While it is true that these intellectual pursuits contributed to my subsequent activities, Brun’s implicit teachings were actually helpful from another perspective as well.

I wrote “implicitly” because he didn’t explicitly express it in words, but I often see people involved in luxury, including researchers, resorting to mounting. He taught me that it is wise to be aware of that reality. Be wary of people who say, “I am talking about real trends after knowing the reality of how rich people are.” In fact, I hear this kind of story so often that I get sick of it. Researchers are no exception. No, researchers may have a stronger motivation to talk about their connections to wealthy people. There may be times when you have no choice but to say, “Even though I’m in the field of research, I am very knowledgeable about the world.”

As is often said in the history of luxury since the 19th century, luxury has existed as a tool for people who want to do mounting, and that character has survived to the present day. The reason why European luxury brands are highly dependent on the Asian market is because their products are often used as mounting tools by Asian people.Therefore, there are many people who criticize the very concept of luxury as being offensive, and view luxury from a distance as much as possible.

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

Luxury research is probably the underlying reason behind the appearance of “Kiwamono.” That’s why there are so many things to dig into, in a good way. Brun suggested that this was a field where it would be easy to demonstrate a frontier spirit.However, in order to avoid a situation where the mummifier becomes a mummified person, you need to be prepared to quietly leave the room in front of someone who is trying to mount the mummy. Yes, we don’t have time to waste energy on collisions.

More than that, I want to use my energy to step into new areas.The reason why I focused my activities on creating a culture of new luxury was as an attempt to strategically change the meaning of luxury as my own practical version of the “innovation of meaning” advocated by Roberto Berganti, Brun’s former colleague. Not only did it mount, but it may also have had a defensive instinct to avoid people mounting it.

I hadn’t been very aware of this defensive instinct since I started working with luxury, but I became aware of it again when I heard the news of Brun’s passing. I would say that his modest personality made my luxury exploration a pleasant experience.Mr. Maezawa, there are many people who dislike luxury itself from the beginning, but I have met many people who are interested in learning about the essence of luxury. Please let us know if this episode reminds you of anything.

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

Mr. Anzai’s story reminded me of the retrospective exhibition of Enzo Mari, the master of Italian design, that I saw this month at the Design Museum in London. This retrospective exhibition was originally held at the Triennale Milano in Milan in 2020, the year of Mari’s death, and covers not only Mari as a designer, but also as an artist, teacher, critic, activist, and father/grandfather. I’m introducing him here. Influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Marxism, Mari always included strong social messages in his designs for even the most universal objects, such as calendars, toys, chairs, and vases.

The exhibition, which contains a vast amount of material that shows the process, was curated in chronological order, and it was truly spectacular, and it was structured so that you could experience the evolution of Mari’s personality and interests more immersively than the works itself. In particular, I was deeply moved to observe works from when I was an art college student, as well as works that were born out of having children and the episodes in which they were created. 

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

His early works show that he was purely absorbed in pursuing form and new materials, but in the second half of the exhibition, we begin to see a strong sense of his social side, such as his sense of mission and justice. Mari is famous for saying that “Designers serve society, not themselves,” and design can enhance the experience and status of not only the person who purchases the product, but also the person who creates it. I also thought that I should contribute. Perhaps the turning point was Autoprogettazione.

Autoprogettazione is a word coined by Mari from “auto” and “progettazione”, but this project had a slightly different meaning than “Do it yourself.” The purpose of this “instruction manual”, which includes development diagrams and instructions on how to make 19 pieces of furniture that can be made using only rough boards and nails, is not to enable anyone to make beautiful furniture, but to provide design education through the experience of making furniture. The goal was to be able to talk about what “good design” is even for people who have not received it.

However, what I would like to focus on is not Autoprogettazione itself, but his failure episode that started it.

In 1970, Mari acquired a sofa from Maddalena de Padova, founder of De Padova, a Milanese furniture brand that was the first to introduce Scandinavian and American furniture design to Italy, and later gained a reputation for its comfortable and tasteful original collections. You will be asked to do so. Mari reviewed existing models and designed a model called DAY-NIGHT that can also function as a bed with simple operation.

She was known as the “Lady of Italian Design” and had an outstanding sense of aesthetics.De Padua herself praised the design, saying, “I personally would like to buy it,” but in the end it did not sell. Therefore, we decided not to go into production. Mari persuades another sponsor and manages to get the product into production, but not only is there a large deficit, but the retailer rejects the product, saying it won’t sell.

A few months later, several intellectuals belonging to left-wing groups that he supported, including the Italian Communist Party, said that the design was better than the bed that Italian craftsmen were making for wealthy Arabs at the time (a round, marble pedestal with a water mattress on it).

Luxury and mounting: How to keep the right distance

Mari learns that he has repeatedly declared that he prefers beds with Murano glass lamps. “While I can accept the reasoning behind the retail stores, I cannot accept that people whose ideals I subscribe to worship the most depraved products, which can influence the customs and customs of many people. ” I wonder if that’s true,” Marli lamented, thinking that if the general public had more physical experience making furniture with their own hands, their understanding of good design might spread. At the same time, we also found it problematic that the tools and technical knowledge needed to do so were not sufficiently widespread.

Soon after this bitter experience, Mari creates models of 19 pieces of furniture, including tables, chairs, shelves, and beds. They photographed these materials and presented a catalog with detailed drawings and materials at an exhibition, and announced that they would provide this catalog free of charge to anyone who paid the shipping costs. That is Autoprogettazione.

Autoprogettazione is still featured in universities and design magazines and is an inspiration for young designers, but this episode made me feel Mari’s arrogance. I thought “mounting” was an attempt to blame the lack of sales on the recipient’s bad taste, or to try to educate the public through autoprogettazione. In other words, his attitude was “on my nose” for me.

However, as I left the area where the Autoprogettazione was exhibited and looked at later works and homage works by London designers that were exhibited as an additional project unique to the museum, I began to realize the intentions and background of the time. In any case, I’ve come to think that Autoprogettazione is a poetic and worthwhile endeavor. To use Mr. Anzai’s expression, once I “stepped up from my seat,” I was able to see the fun and significance of this project from a broader perspective.

I think the reason Mari ended up creating Autoprogettazione was because she left out of the conflict over whether it would sell or not. At this point, he may have given up, believing that nothing would change even if he fought, or he may have found hope on the side of the masses. However, there is no doubt that this event led Mari’s subsequent activities to focus on the “dignity of those who make things,” and made Mari himself an influential figure even today.

When you come across something that resonates with you, it may be an opportunity to re-evaluate things and rediscover their value. If I think I’m about to be mounted, I’ll happily get up from my seat and think, “Okay, here we are!” and look around at the scene from a distance.

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