Reifying luxury, gold to golden: how the showroom became a digital showreel : From object (gold) to experience (golden): experiencing luxury by abstracting the object
de Kock, Pieter
This article focuses on the notion of space of luxury. It explores the passage of time; in how showrooms and flagship stores, embedded in the tradition of symbolism and paradigms of symbolic elements, intersect with cutting-edge digital technologies. Also analysed is the resulting customer experience, evident at this meeting between old and new technologies. This study consists of three parts. Firstly, a framework is established by way of a discussion of key concepts underpinning the physical, symbolical and cultural characteristics of the architecture of consumerism and luxury. Secondly, several case studies are examined to help understand the transition from the use of physical elements (materials, spatial qualities, lighting and surfaces) which generate exclusivity, surprise and sophistication in high-end showrooms, to the employment of new digital technologies — where the luxury component is provided by access to exclusive information and experience. The final part discusses how data and information technologies are radically transforming the current luxury market, where luxury is based on accessibility, visibility and perception. Traditionally luxury spaces were based on a physical demarcation of territories of exclusivity. This contrasts with new luxury spaces that allow for exclusivity to be invisible and ubiquitous; enhancing not only its own imposition of narrow market segmentation, but also acting as bridging elements into every other market sector. Traditionally, the quality and durability of experience around visual meaning, has always been a prerequisite for luxury. As our visual world reorients around the invisible, what we cannot see still has to be sustainable to the point of scarcity. This study holds that visual sustainability, as part of the larger orbit of perception’s five senses, still remains the primary container of meaning, because we see through our experience. Through this experience then, luxury is reinventing itself as a digital showreel; not only of what exists, but of what is possible.