/University of Technology Sydney/Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
/University of Technology Sydney/Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building/School of Design
/University of Technology Sydney/Strength - CCDP - Contemporary Design Practice
We live in a world obsessed by luxury. Long-distance airlines compete to offer private first-class suite experiences, returning travel to the privatised splendour of a nineteenth-century Pullman railway car. Antique Fairs in London and Basel transform themselves from purveyors of Georgian grandeur to contemporary lifestyle experiences, blending interior decoration, paintings, gems, watches and contemporary design into a theatrical mise en scène. Across China, India, parts of Latin America and the Gulf states, new middle classes and elites repurchase parts of their ‘oriental’ past, from multi-million dollar vases to the very gem stones that were re-set by Cartier and Mauboussin for mainly Western elites in the 1920s and 1930s. This book aims to be the first overall history of luxury. The literature on the topic is vast but in many ways lacking of an overview that connects different periods and themes. Luxury: A Rich History wishes to rehabilitate this long past in three ways: It asks whether and how the definition of luxury is time specific.- Issues of definition and identity also raise the problem of what might be the remit of luxury. Finally, this book wishes to consider what we call the ‘sensorial economy of luxury’. A history of a changing concept can only be tracked by examining what people at the time considered to be ‘luxurious’, and why. Architecture, furniture and furnishing, clothing and accessories, gems and jewels, fur and precious silks are all props in what we might define – paraphrasing Appadurai’s (1986) – “the social life of a concept”. But next to a typology of objects is also a typology of people engaged in conspicuous consumption, in collecting or simply ‘living the life’ of luxury. These include, among the many, Renaissance courtiers, eighteenth-century fashionables, American heiresses, jet-set playboys and decayed noblemen, glamorous Hollywood stars, and rich plutocrats. In this sense Luxury: A Rich History is both a history of things and of the people who owned and enjoyed them. 90,000 words plus bilbiog and notes. In production.
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