A Note on the Question: What Luxury Means
It’s not a time of year when anyone thinks of minimalism – or even if they are, it’s minimalism as defined by glossy design magazines and international luxury brands that create “minimalist” artifacts worth thousands of rupees. The luxury market often defies accepted market dynamics – its behavior is dictated by forces beyond most of us’ comprehension.
When Gucci sells rubber sliders that cost over $300 (about ₹25,000; in the photo above) – sliders that you cannot distinguish, at a glance, from those that are sold in the Lajpat Nagar market for ₹300 – most of us, even those of us who write about luxury and aren’t cynical about it, are tempted to raise our eyebrows. In fact, every year when we write our gift guide to Living room, we invariably debate questions like “what is luxury?” and “who really buys carpets for ₹8,000,000?
In many ways, Sabyasachi Mukherjee, who is on our cover this week, shortly after launching her first global store in New York, answered some of those questions for us. He says Living room that luxury and maximalism are really about projection; on the idea of creating desire. “What you wear is (just) performance,” says Sabyasachi, who is the celebrity designer and known for introducing the world to the Indian design sensibility. “If you want to eventually target the large, large, affluent middle class, you have to start at the top, not the middle.”
And that’s really what it’s all about – price tags can change, but what remains constant is this desire to hold an object that signals craftsmanship, authenticity, novelty, style, even power. And brands weave stories of craftsmanship and sustainability to create that desire. Ultimately, however, every object exists for a reason; it’s not just decorative. Whether astronomically expensive or conveniently priced, it fills a need. As Rebecca West said, “art is not just a toy”.
Our gift guide this year, specially designed for the last-minute shoppers among us, is inspired by all these ideas. You can choose from these pages or use them as a moodboard to recreate the items in your signature style, get help from a local tailor or artisan to make your own statement. From a basket created in a migrant community kitchen to sparkly shoes, stylish lamps to set the mood for a party to repeating machines for a quiet siesta, this is a guide to imaginative and indulgent gift giving, with a touch of luxury.
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