Category Archives: Current Affairs

What does ‘luxury’ really mean?

The word “luxury” has been used to define many things. As we know, it’s been overextended. What’s in and out for brand-speak?

Out In
Luxury Authenticity
Decadent Discretion
Exquisite Quality
Lavish Sensitive
Extravagance Dependable
Glamour Exclusive
Flash Subtle

True luxury brands have remained above the fray, as their brand messaging and company legacy still hold appeal for the wealthiest percentage of the population. Those who have embraced the new vocabulary also find themselves in a good position as tenets like authenticity, quality and dependability are valued. In the future, luxury goods will be marketed to the Earnest Affluents exclusively, or those who can afford the investment.

Consumer Condidence is UP!

Consumer Confidence jumps to highest level since November

People more optimistic about short-term future

Furniture Today Staff — Furniture Today, April 28, 2009

NEW YORK — Consumer confidence jumped to 39.2 in April from 26.9 in March, mainly because more people are optimistic about their short-term future, according to The Conference Board's monthly survey.

It was the highest reading of the year (1985=100), the research group said. The survey is based on a sample of 5,000 U.S. households, with a cutoff date of April 21.

Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board Consumer Research Center, said the gain was "driven primarily by a significant improvement in the short-term outlook. The Present Situation posted a moderate gain (to 23.7 from 21.9 in March), a sign that conditions have not deteriorated further, and may even moderately improve, in the second quarter.

"The sharp increase in the Expectations Index (to 49.5 from 30.2) suggests that consumers believe the economy is nearing a bottom. However, this Index still remains well below levels associated with strong economic growth," she said.

The overall Consumer Confidence Index is at its highest since November, when it registered 44.7

People Still Gotta Eat!

In a recent Wall Street Journal article “People Still Have to Eat”, the dining gurus Ms. & Mr. Zagat posit that in spite of whatever may be going on in the economy, people still have to eat. They do so for social reasons in many instances, financial in others. There are certain restaurants that actually deliver good value for healthy food and it’s cost-effective to eat there versus cooking at home. I think for the design industry, there is value in focusing on the social elements of entertaining and offering services that help people entertain more at home, especially with the holidays around the corner. As the article says, people still “gotta eat.”

Defining Luxury Down

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal “De Gustibus” column, Bret Stephens talked about Defining Luxury Down, the fact that what once used to be luxurious is not longer in many respects. This article was written in reference to the real estate market in Manhattan where indeed, with the prices being charged, one would reasonably expect luxurious accommodations including high-end materials, services, locations, views, etc. Alas, this is not always proving the case. Developers frequently say something is luxurious when it is in fact basic. You see, there really is no policing system for the application of the word “luxurious” and as it becomes used more liberally and commonly, it will be diluted.

For the interior design professional who seeks to do business with the “high-end” market, it is best to remember what luxury once stood for—superb craftsmanship, not available to the masses, special order, and above all, attentive service. If that is the audience you seek, then make sure that is the level of product and service you are providing.