January 2010 Newsletter: Experience the new luxury


One of the top design-related trends I am seeing as we enter the new year is a new interest in redefining “luxury.” I find it interesting that as we navigate the waters towards greater fiscal balance, there is an uncompromising quest for the good life. Luxury on a better budget seems to be the buzz, but we are not giving up the luxury part at all.

The old meanings of luxury that we are trying to overwrite have to do with excesses and pure status statements. The new meanings seem to me to have more to do with value and very importantly, with experience.

When I think of how value translates to the new luxury I feel it has less to do with value as an absolute bargain, and more to do with ensuring that what we invest in is inherently valuable to us. Here value takes on an individual dimension because it has to do with what makes you personally feel good. Do you require the best quality? The cleanest lines or appropriate styling? Does beauty or comfort resonate most with you?

Value also has to do with the ongoing benefits. At the highest level, people are buying collectors pieces that will maintain value. As we move along the scale most everyone is concerned with investing in pieces and styling that will stand the test of time. Hence classic pieces and a base level of quality take on greater importance.

Now the question of experience. I have definitely been on a journey towards understanding the importance of aesthetics in our life this last year. The reality is that interior design is not just about how something looks. It is about experience and the way that being in a beautiful space makes you feel. This is my new truth.

Emphasis on experience will define the new luxury. As we become more wired and high tech, local and personal connections and the ability to experience something in real life rather than through the web or a movie becomes quite important. We want to feel with our bodies and our interiors will reflect that need for authenticity and experiential pleasures.

In my utopia this trend will translate into interiors that are personalized enough to express their inhabitants in true effect, so that you can walk into the space and feel their essence. Rooms will have a more tactile quality and will really accommodate and create a place for true connection. There will be engaging details that draw us in and comfort us because they soothe the mind’s eye. But not too many details. Our rooms will feel good in the simplest sense of having that “aahh” feeling when you walk in, and have a good flow of energy to them. Think light, air, space. All the basics, but put together in a way that feels extraordinary. True luxury.

Experiments for the New Decade

Paint one space in your house a neutral color. In the last decade, applying the correct color to our walls was a mainstream design obsession. This year try beige, taupe, or an off-white for a change of pace in one major living area and feel the “aahh” effect.

Unstuff one room in your house. Take out EVERYTHING you don’t really truly love. Organize or remove all the clutter. Apply the “useful or beautiful” maxim to evaluate every item. See if you can borrow things you love from other rooms if there are things you really need in the experimental room. Now how does it feel to be in a space filled ONLY with things that made the cut?

Research ways to really make a personalized statement. Can you buy some original art? Create your own? Showcase a collection or a passion? Highlight old family photos or personal travels? Do it. This will create that feeling of authenticity.

Create a place just for conversation. No TV. No computer desk. Just people face to face, making a connection.

I will be testing the waters with you this month. I need to do each of these experiments now too! Let’s touch base about it in the next month or two. Meanwhile Happy New Year! Sign up to receive this newsletter via email at www.furbishhome.com/news.html. Read more about my forecasts for design in 2010 on our website by clicking here: Design for the Next Decade.