What is Luxury?

‘What is Luxury?’ interrogates general ideas about luxury, its production and future. It will include objects which demonstrate extraordinary investment in time and skill on the part of their makers as well as projects which investigate social, material and economic networks in order to stimulate alternative thinking about luxury’s future. The relationship of luxury to change, context and conventions is scrutinised through historic objects and contemporary art and design.

This blog provides insight into the time invested in the making and mounting of an exhibition and some of the processes and people involved. We will be sharing our stories along with those of the designers and artists in the exhibition and objects on display.

The exhibition What is Luxury? opens at the V&A, 25 April – 27 September 2015

Image: Luxury Skimming Stone, Dominic Wilcox, 2009

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Have you played our AWARD WINNING game Luxury Time yet?


We are all very excited here in the Digital Media team at the V&A at having just won Silver in the Freshest Game category at the annual Fresh Awards for our online game Luxury Time. Luxury Time was conceived and designed by the amazing design agency The Beautiful Meme and built by the equally talented, […]

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Interview with Iris van Herpen

Dress detail, Voltage Haute Couture, Iris van Herpen, 2013, (c) Leanne Wierzba

This interview took place between fashion designer Iris van Herpen and Leanne Wierzba, co-curator of What is Luxury?, at the Victoria and Albert Museum in late-July 2015. Leanne Wierzba: Thank you for agreeing to meet with me to discuss your work, in particular the dress that you have loaned to us for What is Luxury? – […]

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Monkey Business

'Monkey Business,' Studio Job, 2013 (c) Studio Job

While luxury is often marketed and understood in the media through objects – produced by designers and brands notable for their heritage, prestige and sophistication – selecting objects that enabled us to interrogate the concept of luxury in an exhibition format became one of our greatest challenges. On the one hand, there are so many […]

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Funeral of a Swallow: Attaché Case by Studio Ruuger

Detail of the inlay process. Courtesy of Studio Ruuger

‘Exclusivity’ is one of twenty-one terms employed throughout What is Luxury? These terms, non-hierarchical and far from providing a comprehensive set of definitions, serve as an entry-point into the complex subject of the exhibition and a tool for interpreting objects which could be described as luxury as a result of the context of their production. […]

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A Matter of Luxury – Annie Warburton, Creative Programmes Director, Crafts Council

Photo Heini Schneebeli, Courtesy of the Crafts Council

Affluenza.  Stuffocation.  There’s no shortage of punning neologisms when it comes to our uneasy relationship with having too many things.  The unease mounts when we enter the territory of quantity and quality, excess and taste: the land of luxury.  Whether positioned as luxury’s redeemer or pitted against it, craft is seized upon as an antidote […]

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Installation Mode!

Sketch of mounting proposal for Hermes saddle

Final preparations for the upcoming exhibition What is Luxury? are in full swing now as we rapidly approach the start of the exhibition build. Here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes at some of the activities the team has been involved in over the past couple of months. Graphics Title signage is the first thing […]

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1660 LONDON Tea Cup Connoisseur Set: Visit to Postcard Teas

Postcard Teas, London. Courtesy of Postcard Teas

Early in December, Jana and I went on a curatorial research trip to Postcard Teas, on Dering Street in London’s Mayfair district. It was a cold, drizzly afternoon and the shop became the perfect oasis away from the noisy crowds and ceaseless hustle of nearby Oxford Street. It occupies a small space and has a […]

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What is Luxury?

Chasuble, 1670-95, V&A: 743-1870
The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Collection on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London

‘What is Luxury?’ is the final exhibition in a triennial series organised in collaboration with the Crafts Council. It follows from the successful ‘Power of Making’ in 2011. This exhibition is not focused on luxury consumption. Given that the V&A is located in one of the most consolidated areas of luxury consumption from food to […]

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