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- 20 Dec 2010
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Luxury Staples & Extravagance for the Masses


The handcrafted titanium mouse by Dutch design firm Intelligent Design for about $1400

Ever since the Millionaire Fair franchise debuted eight years ago, it has become a favourite haunt not only for personal shoppers of the very wealthy, but also for incredulous reporters eager to portray the event as an outlandish spectacle. Little wonder then that the mass media is still buzzing about the latest instalment of the more lavish offerings on display at last weekend’s Amsterdam event – known locally as the ‘Miljonair Fair’.

But while opulent and over-the-top items like diamond-encrusted saucepans and sportscars dipped in a full-body of chrome coating seldom disappoint the gawking press, a very substantial number of exhibits at this edition were – as always – targeting a much wider and conventional sort of luxury consumer. In fact, some of the more popular stands were dedicated to mildly souped up and superior versions of comparatively mundane, practical items like beds, massage chairs, a computer mouse and a ‘luxury edition’ of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab device.

 Some of the more popular exhibits were dedicated to souped up and superior versions of comparatively mundane, practical items 


Samsung’s luxury edition of the Galaxy Tab identical to the standard version, save its leather case and Bluetooth headset


Sanyo’s Zero Gravity Massage Chair

In many ways, the fair’s assortment of luxury goods and services rather neatly mirrors the diversity of styles and clients in the contemporary luxury market. A Fons Schobbers sculpture which doubles as a sort of ergonometric chaise longue and a painting by the late Dutch artist Karel Appel may still be bold but these avant-garde works are light years away from the flashier corners of the exhibition hall.

Classic items like mink jackets, speed boats and other ‘luxury staples’ reportedly do a roaring trade at the fair too. A spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Holland reassured BusinessWeek that contrary to the fair’s now legendary reputation for novelty and ostentation, “we do real business at this show and this year is no different.”


Karel Appel’s ‘Deux Personnages Italiennes’

That’s not to say that there weren’t the requisite extravagances, of course. There was Jaeger-LeCoultre’s lavish Hybris Mechanica Grande at £3 million, for instance, and collector items like bejewelled Japanese swords. But it was left to what was arguably this edition’s star attraction to sum up the many divergent forces in the marketplace today: an extraordinarily lavish looking product with an ethical and efficiency-minded concept behind it.

A hybrid stretch limousine cum minibus cum supercar called the Superbus is the brainchild of a former ESA astronaut, Wubbo Ockels. The electric vehicle has room for 23 passengers; is 15 meters long; can reach speeds of 250 km per hour; and is dubbed ‘green’ because it is lightweight and consumes less energy than traditional buses comparable in size. Most interesting of all, it is being marketed as a public transportation alternative.


The superbus, for €13 million