Hands up if your idea of luxury is being pampered in a fluffy white robe? What about having a priceless watch or piece of jewellery? Or maybe it's an hour of 'me time' each day? The point is, the meaning of 'luxury' is different for everyone.
To complicate matters further, the concept of luxury has also changed throughout history – it is constantly being shaped by our cultures, technologies and economics – reflecting who we are as a society.
This fascinating and sometimes provocative subject is the focus of a current exhibition at the V&A museum – What is Luxury? The show explores the different guises luxury has taken over the years and features work by a range of designers, makers and artists – think Valentino gowns, gold Rococo crowns from the 18th century and even a DNA vending machine.
From the intricate to the rare, to the downright unimaginable, the exhibition showcases objects which demonstrate an extraordinary investment in time and handmaking as well as challenging preconceived notions of value and the future of luxury in the 21st century. Contemporary designers explore the idea of how time and space is becoming more and more of a luxury in today's world, with some surprising installations that reimagine how luxury might look in the next fifty years.
One of our favourite items in the exhibition is a series of combs entitled 'Hair Highway' by Studio Swine (above), which at first glance, look like tropical hardwood or tortoiseshell. On closer inspection, however, they're made from human hair encased in resin. As the human population continues to grow and the world’s natural resources diminish, human hair could become an increasingly viable alternative. Something to think about next time you get a haircut…
What is Luxury? is at the V&A Museum until 27th September 2015.
While you're there, catch the current Savage Beauty exhibition which showcases the work of the innovative fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
Image credits: Combs, Hair Highway © Studio Swine; Ecclesiastical crown, ca. 1750 © The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.