What is Luxury? The V&A Museum Announces New Show for Spring 2015

Posted December 22, 2014 at 4:37 pm in Art, Heritage, Luxury, News

new Dress_Voltage_Haute_Couture_Iris_Van_Herpen_2013_Paris_c_M._Zoeter_x_Iris_van_HerpenVoltage Dress, Iris van Herpen, 2013, Paris © M Zoeter x Iris van Herpen

A MAJOR exhibition exploring the meaning of luxury will be on show at the V&A, London next year. What is Luxury?, a collaboration between the V&A and the Crafts Council, aims to take visitors on a journey asking them to consider what luxury means and how it relates to their own lives. As well as including artefacts traditionally regarded as luxury items, the exhibition also wishes to provoke questioning and debate through the presentation of imaginary situations in order to investigate issues such as privacy, resources and access that could determine present and future ideas of luxury.


Ecclesiastical crown, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, LondonEcclesiastical crown, ca. 1750 © The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection
on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On display at the V&A will be objects regarded as luxurious due to the excellence of their design and craftsmanship such as the Space Travellers’ Watch, an entirely handcrafted mechanical timepiece by renowned British watchmaker George Daniels, a laser-cut haute couture dress by fashion designer Iris van Herpen, a Hermès Talaris saddle which combines traditional leather craftsmanship with a technologically innovative structure, and the Bubble Bath necklace by Nora Fok, made from more than 1000 hand-knitted nylon bubbles.

The concepts of time and space will be also examined in the show as the curators argue these are luxury items too especially within a 21st–century urban context.

Time for Yourself,  Marcin Rusak and Iona Inglesby, 2013, Marcin RusakTime for Yourself.  Marcin Rusak and Iona Inglesby, 2013 © Marcin Rusak

What is Luxury? poses questions about the future of luxury by presenting a range of design and art projects which question the relationship between luxury, value and materials. For instance Hair Highway by Studio Swine sets human hair in resin to create decorative pieces of furniture and accessories. Through looking at traditional explanations of luxury to conceptual projects, What is Luxury? aims to take visitors on a journey and prompt them to consider what luxury means and how it relates to their own lives.

Visiting research fellow Leanne Wierzba, co-curator of the exhibition, says, “What is Luxury? will reveal the stories and craftsmanship behind the exquisite and intriguing objects on display and demonstrate the precision, time and application of skills invested to produce them.”

V&A curator of Contemporary Furniture Jana Scholze and co-curator of What is Luxury?, adds, “As its title suggests, the exhibition questions the very idea of luxury today. It will challenge common interpretations of luxury, invite close examination of luxury production and extend ideas of what luxury can be. Essentially, the question of luxury is a personal one.”

by Caroline Simpson

Featured image credits: Necklace Bubble Bath Nora Fok 2001 Photograph: Heini Schneebeli. Courtesy of the Crafts Council

What is Luxury? opens at April 25 – September 27, 2015, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL. The Museum opens from 10.00 – 17.45 daily. Fridays from 10.00 – 22.00 (selected galleries remain open after 18.00.


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