Exhibition Defines Luxury

LONDON -- What is Luxury?, a new exhibition at the V&A, will present exceptional examples of contemporary design and craftsmanship alongside conceptual projects which interrogate fundamental ideas of luxury, its production and future.

Art collectors of Art Kabinett social media network cannot wait to visit the gift shop of this fun show, which will likely stock take-home versions of exhibited pieces.

From a diamond made from roadkill to a vending machine stocked with DNA, a golden crown for ecclesiastical use to traditional military tailoring, over 100 objects will address how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.

The opening section of the exhibition will consider objects defined as luxurious by the excellence of their design and craftsmanship.

On display will be objects which celebrate the investment of time and application of skill in the process of making, including:

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 chandelier by Studio Drift (pictured here) featuring real dandelion seeds applied by hand to LED lights, 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.

Time Elapsed, a large spirograph designed by Philippe Malouin for glassware company Lobmeyr which rotates to draw patterns made of sand, comments on the time-intensive process of making fine crystal and will act as a centerpiece.

Seemingly disparate objects will be juxtaposed and presented alongside terminology associated with luxury in order to focus on specific aspects of its many possible interpretations.

Exquisite Workmanship

Bowls by the artist Chung Hae-Cho created entirely through building up multiple layers of lacquer are placed alongside a menswear ensemble by designer Carol Christian Poell, known for his devotion to critically examining and perfecting techniques of tailoring.

The grouping demonstrates how a high level of expertise is refined and investigated in making exquisitely finished objects.

The exhibition will speculate about the future of luxury by presenting a range of design and art projects which interrogate relationships between luxury, value and materials. Hair Highway by Studio Swine sets human hair in resin to create highly decorative pieces of furniture and accessories.

The rich surfaces of the objects on display are reminiscent of valuable but limited luxury materials such as tortoiseshell, horn and exotic wood, but are made of one of the few natural resources which increases along with the world’s population.

Aram Mooradian’s 'A Comprehensive Atlas of Gold Fictions' re-examines our relationship with gold, a finite luxury material.

Everyday objects made from gold mined in Australia, including a headphone jack and a pendant, are engraved with personal local histories to encode them with a new cultural value. Also on display will be work by Unknown Fields Division including vessels made from toxic mud collected on a recent expedition to the Rare Earth Elements’ mines in Inner Mongolia.

What is Luxury? will provoke thinking and debate through fictional scenarios that consider issues like privacy, resources and access that could determine present and future ideas of luxury.

DNA Vending Machine

American artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo’s DNA Vending Machine contains pre-packaged DNA samples and will invite visitors to consider our increasing access to biotechnology and how privacy and ownership of one’s own DNA may become a luxury in the future.

In the installation The Boltham Legacy, artist Henrik Nieratschker tells the fictional story of a British billionaire who sends altered bacteria into space in an attempt to find valuable metals on distant planets. The piece speculates about the luxury of having exclusive access to resources.

Through the movement from more 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.

A V&A and Crafts Council Exhibition 25 April– 27 September 2015 http://vam.ac.uk/whatisluxury

Today's homepage Featured Art Video explores the mechanical genius of George Daniels, whose revolutionary wristwatches fetch $150,000. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_XK2sR30Kw&sns=em