The Luxury of Experience versus the Luxury of Material Goods
By Elena Castelló
There is a new concept of luxury as being something completely distinct from opulence: It is not something that cultivates either ostentation or exhibition, nor is it demonstrated in the accumulation of expensive or bombastic objects. It is the answer to a new concept of genuine pleasure versus pure narcissism. This is the new idea of luxury, brought into being in the 21st Century and is a luxury that gives precedence to refinement and personal enjoyment. In the past, luxury has been related to outer appearances such as having spectacular jewels or wearing impressive dresses. This has now changed and luxury nowadays is more discreet, consisting of having thing made just for you, stamped with your initials. It means having something that is hard to get. In Aristotle’s “Politics”, it is precisely defined: “All in all, wealth consists more in use than in possession”.
Luxury, therefore, is experience. Authenticity. Knowledge. Luxury is a way of life and finding value in things that fulfil our lives.
1-Living is the only thing that is truly unique.
There is nothing more exclusive than the lives we lead. Life is uniquely for us and is tailor-made for each and every one of us. In the same way, true luxury can be related to memory and time, which comes with the discovery of a new life perspective: nobody else can claim to have lived the same things that we have. New luxury is related to simplicity: silence, the sparkling of crystalline water, the taste of ripe fruit that has recently been picked from the tree. They are things that were always within reach of everyone but no longer are due to mass-production, pollution and chaotic urbanism. As a result, the luxury of today is exactly what Henry David Thoreau described in “Walden” in 1854 as being the opposite of luxury: “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” Nowadays, true luxury is, above all, the search for that same spiritual elevation.
2- Sensory pleasure is intellectual pleasure
Traditionally, the senses have been considered the anchor of all pleasure and, indeed, they bring to us the enjoyment that we treasure so much such as a beautiful moment stored in our memories. The best gastronomy in the restaurant of one of the world’s greatest chefs; discovering landscapes that are still unspoilt by humans; viewing the artwork of the best couturier in their private rooms… All this is related to the senses – sight, sound, taste and touch. However, it would not be the same without the presence of intellect. Reaching a deep understanding of the places we travel to, their history, their traditions or why a place is so far from man will multiply the pleasure. The appreciation of Haute Couture design is only possible if the experience is also present in the mind. The same happens when visiting a gourmet restaurant. Modern luxury claims its status from intellectual experience.
3- Exclusivity is a personal attitude
Luxury is synonymous with being only within the reach of very few –the “happy few” – but over the years, exclusivity has changed. These days, it isn’t so difficult to get lost in a dreamy landscape and stay overnight in a beautiful hotel. The key to new luxury, therefore, is “personalization” over exclusivity. The idea of material goods is no longer as important as the idea of having something made just for you. It is no longer the concept of something being hard to find but rather that it has your name on it in some way. Let’s take, for example, a jewel made of painite, the rarest precious stone in the world, or with alejandrites, that change colour in the light. To be able to recognize the true luxury, knowledge is required. You have to know to be able to distinguish something good from the very best and be able to appreciate the details. The new luxury is a personal attitude.
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