There are at least two versions of luxurious goodness that have I have observed. The first appeared on visits to the Maiyet fashion show and Merci store in Paris. The fundamental goal of both brands is to give to a larger cause, but it’s not the primary brand message. Both lead with lifestyle and luxury, but are driven by good and giving. This creates a loyal following, one that doesn’t just believe in, but “participates in the brand.”
The second version of luxurious goodness is a massive movement toward supporting arts and culture by using the power of the brand. For example, the Louis Vuitton store in Paris has a cultural center where you can view works from emerging and established artists. They use the power of their brand to support the arts.
During the recession of 2007-2009, an important trend emerged called small indulgences. Legendary trend forecaster, Faith Popcorn, identified this trend and argues that it has endured. The trend is rooted in the idea that you can quickly and affordably treat yourself to something special – think cupcakes or artisanal cocktails. But what if these experiences are an enduring part of your everyday life? They become everyday luxuries. Small ways to feel connected to something that embodies heritage, quality, and specialness. They are also things that you can consume on a daily basis to enact this connection daily like perfume, a box of salted caramels, or a beautiful notebook.
In 2014, I visited the Maille mustard shop in Paris where they have elevated an everyday condiment into a very special experience. You can choose from an array of colorful and adventurous flavors, or you can select from a classic line that is on tap. They fill their artisanal ceramic jars with mustard, and then place it in a beautiful black box with gold writing. When you use the mustard it becomes a reminder of this experience. This is not your typical grocery store mustard.
A new type of restaurant is emerging: modern canteens. These canteens are generally open only for breakfast and lunch. They have well curated, limited menus, many have communal tables, and a focus on fresh, healthy food. In terms of menus they are more elaborate than coffee shops, but they are filling the same role as a third space. Many of them are deeply embedded in neighborhoods and are hubs for their communities.
In Berlin, canteens are especially interesting because they are based in artists collectives located in off the beaten path neighborhoods. This allows a way for artists to get a nourishing, well considered meal without traveling too far. It also foster congregation and community building.
Art + Food
In 1971 artist Gordon Matta-Clark opened a restaurant called Food. It was simultaneously an affordable delicious place to eat and a performance piece. There is a long history of artists and food. From still life portraits to the exploration of eating practices, but the modern rise of the food movement as a creative and political practice has created a resurgent interest for food in the art world.
In 2014 the artist Olafur Eliasson published the book Take Your Time: The Kitchen to document the studio’s daily lunch practice, their recipes, and health philosophies. In 2015 two more books have been published. Mina Stone’s, Cooking for Artists documents the recipes and menus she creates for the artist, Urs Fischer, and his studio employees. They are a set of beautiful healthy meals meant to nourish the artists, and fuel their creativity. The second book, Dinner with Jackson Pollock written by Robyn Lea, explores the culinary history of artist Jackson Pollock.
Two important themes with longevity are: caring for work community with nourishing food, and a further blurring of lines between art and food.
The scent industry is going through revolutionary change. In recent history it has been an industry of invisible artists. Perfume makers or noses were hidden behind luxury brands and celebrities. But in 2010 a shift began to happen to make the invisible visible. It was in large part driven by Chandler Burr a science journalist who wrote a pair of books about the perfume industry and subsequently became a scent critic for the New York Times. In 2012 he curated an olfactory exhibit at the Museum of Art and Design, Art of Scent. In it he removed all branding from perfumes, gave credit to the perfume makers, and presented them as works of art. The industry has also driven this transformation. Legendary perfume curator Frederic Malle asks the world’s best noses to create editions for his perfume company. He gives them creative freedom and generous price points to create their dream perfumes. And the Chicago based perfume company, Olfactif, curates a monthly selection of perfumes for people to try on their skin and experience before buying. Tara Swords, the creator of Olfactif, also writes beautiful descriptions of each perfume drawing attention to the poetic narrative of the perfume and its maker.
In addition to these more beautiful smelling pursuits, there are also olfactory artists who are concerned with pushing the edges of our sense of smell. Because our sense of smell is so powerful, but also greatly overlooked, there is a desire to reconnect to this sense. Most notably is Sissel Tolaas, a Berlin based perfume artist who is also a chemist. She has a fascinating ongoing project for which she collects scents from cities and presents them in exhibits meant to encourage a new experience with a city.
The Los Angeles based Institute for Art and Olfaction runs a provocative scent program. The founder, Saskia Wilson Brown, believes in the transgressive power of scent. They have a wide range of projects from exploring scent at divisive walls in the world, scented events to help people find love, and exploring interspecies communication through scent.
On a visit to Denver, I had the opportunity to experience the burgeoning recreational marijuana dispensary culture. When I entered the first shop, it was as if I walked into a corner liquor store. The "budtender" was incredibly friendly and helpful, and asked what he could do for us. I was struck by the normalcy of our conversation, which revealed my inherent bias. He showed us all the products available for recreational sale (separated from the medicinal sale section) including buds, candy, shatter (pictured here), and even topical cream. He said the shatter is pure THC and is the marijuana equivalent of bourbon. The buds are the classics, and are kind of like craft beers. He also pointed out that there is a 23% sales tax that is doing wonders for the state revenue.
This industry has huge potential, but it is still very young. There hasn't been a lot of attention put into the store experience or attracting new consumers (especially in a luxury market). While there are some lingering problems with banking and federal and state policy conflicts, this industry is growing. Several states are in line to legalize recreational use. Not only will there be great opportunities for marijuana production and edibles, alongside this are tremendous possibilities for branding, packaging, and retail experiences.
There is a major movement trend happening. There are new forms of exercise emerging as well as a growing desire to be connected to our bodies. While this mindful movement enhances the body, it also embodies identity, aesthetic interests, soulfulness, and being connected to something bigger than us. Trend forecaster Li Edelkoort talks about it also being a new cultural phenomenon in which sports are a favorite pastime and a fundamental way to socialize.
New disciplines have been and will be invented, the way we dress when we exercise is becoming increasingly important. It's another avenue to express our style. There will be new spaces for this kind of movement that are more progressive, soulful and healing than modern gyms - spaces that nurture the mind, body, and soul.