Luxury is intimate. Soulfully surpassing price and prestige, luxury today is a state-of-mind or state-of-the-soul, rather than a statement on the size or elasticity of one's wallet. Those of us in the luxury business who listen carefully to the sentiments expressed by designers and their clients about their most sincere motivation to spend, realize that luxury demands a new definition. So, in the spirit of intimate sharing, we believe that luxury is really much better described as an intimate and exclusive experience with time, quality and imagination. One could also interpret that definition to be the essence of interior design. In this week's weblog and others to follow, I am going to dissect the meaning of each word, and focus on what we believe matters to designers and consumers.
Intimate means ... those essential places in the heart and soul where real truth lies, and real desire resides ― a place to live a life in full, and full of cues on the scope of what extraordinary decor can be. Designers are skilled in the art of gaining insights into those intimate places where their clients are motivated to live life fully, and especially what their decor should feel like.
That feeling is often INSPIRED by four intimate and emotional influences on luxury at home ― connecting (with relationships at home), questing (pursuing an adventure in another home), taking care of me (sensually at home), and individual style (at home). These emotional influences have not changed much over the centuries, but the consumer's ability to respond to them with buoyant bank accounts has.
As Guy Salter, Deputy Chairman of British luxury-brands firm Walpole, says, “we are seeing the growth in what could be termed a new aristocracy. Their emphasis on the home and family, on personal fulfillment and the environment are all testaments to this new way of thinking." Aristocratic indeed. These are not arrivistes consumed by excess; they are thinking people living luxuriously among peers of the intimate realm, regardless of the size of their investment. If her home is intimate to her, she's living in luxury.
And living in luxury is the enabling force in interior design. Interior designers afford their clients to live in real luxury, springing from intimate sources like these:
... "tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt the emotion of seeing ... the vision I had in my mind’s eye and that now was very real."
... "this makes me want to come home!"
... "I've made a grown man cry, a nun jump up and down and squeal...a lot!"
How did they do it? They listened well. Stephen Covey, author of the popular Seven Habits of Highly Successful People urges us to, "seek first to understand, before seeking to be understood." Simple advice - hard practice. It means that during those initial conversations between designer and client, probing questions are asked and intimate details revealed. After all, design needs to feel right in all settings. Each situation demands a rapport between designer and client that culminates in an intimate expression of self.
That intimate experience of design, indeed the luxury of working with an interior designer, is often described just like that. Therefore, we warmly invite stories from designers who are willing to generously complete for us this sentence:
You know a design experience is extraordinary when ...
The experiences highlighted above, all passionate embraces of the extraordinary value of design, are reflective of so many designer/client relationships. All of them are immensely worthwhile ― not 'priceless' but absolutely worthy of the investment in design. So for those clients who want this type of emotional reward from their investment in decor (no matter how large or small), the result is luxury to them. One can be intimidated by the process, by making expensive choices or just trying to pull it all together, but designers are not; they are often INSPIRED. So for most clients regardless of budget or bank account, interior design is a luxury for them and well-worth the price.
Design reveals one's intimate desire to live well, no matter how much money is spent. That is luxury. Inspired? Talk.