Beauty, luxury…confusion

15 Mar

Aesthetically pleasing or plain luxurious?

I’m possibly banging the wrong drum but somehow I don’t get the idea of “luxury” anything. Especially in the UK it seems to have a tinge of class bias. If you are a blue-collar worker then you are aspiring to moving up in the world and scoring a luxury flat/apartment, if you are in the middle classes then you aspire to luxury holidays and a luxurious house that will make friends and foes jealous. As for the upper classes, they are trying to keep up what looks like conspicuous consumption and pay the bills for the replacement of their original William Morris wallpaper.

In my head luxury is not a criterion when picking a certain material, past time or product. Good taste and pleasure out of material goods seems the more natural response. For instance I adore my blue and white Aalto vase but that is not because it is expensive or luxurious, it is a beautiful object designed with love and an eye from craftsmanship that is rare. It’s an object I would never want to get rid off because it has a timeless beauty above trends.  In the same way I adore numerous ceramics purchased at Ikea they are not luxurious in the running sense, but to me they make day-to-day life much more colourful and complete.

When I read guides to luxurious this and luxurious that, it all takes sometime to sink in. Is it just about a ridiculous amount of money spent on an item? Is it about being seen to be fashionable? Or it just an ear of decadence and quality that attracts people? The idea of spending £850 on a throw (thanks for the suggestion Elle Deco) is nauseating. Surely that should be relegated to the status of first world over the top vulgarity. I’m sure I could get the same buzz and comfort out of a £100 alpaca throw, thank you very much!

And I think that is my main issue with the whole concept of luxury as promoted by the media, it does not really point to beauty and pleasure, which is my main motivation for choosing a certain item. But it showing off a sense of keeping up an unsustainable trend hunting. Of course self-sufficiency and being happy with your lot does not keep big design firms or shops in business, they need to sell more stuff to an even wider audience. Never mind I’ll be in the corner observing and having a laugh while stirring another batch of luxurious scones.

 

Here’s the set where the pic came from.

 

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3 Responses to “Beauty, luxury…confusion”

  1. Definitely the Opera 15 March 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    What is Blenheim Palace now, a gallery of some sort in Oxfordshire? What was originally? The peasant that I am, I never heard of it.

    • George aka OperaCreep 16 March 2011 at 12:09 am #

      It was built as a thank you for the Duke of Malborough…it’s pretty spectacular, much so than any palace occupied by the Royals. Possibly the nearest the UK got to baroque exuberance…but is it luxurious?

  2. Definitely the Opera 17 March 2011 at 2:34 pm #

    I am not sure why any advertisers use the epithet ‘luxury’ to sell anything. I always thought that only somebody like Abigail of Mike Leigh’s Abigail’s Party (Alison Steadman 4Evah) or Del Boy would use ‘luxury’ and ‘luxurious’ to describe anything. But now I’m showing my snobbery by implying that anybody with ‘real’ class would never be ostentatious whereas the arrivistes flaunt their possessions…

    I don’t know. What does Pierre Bourdieu say about this? But I must say I rarely hear ‘luxury’ used anywhere, except in ads for the Caribbean cruises, in which a truly rich person wouldn’t be caught dead anyway. It’s mostly retired North American middle-class couples who go, because the cruise matches their idea of a relatively adventurous holiday.

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