A New Space-ial Awareness: The Next Challenge for Luxury?


Sophie Maxwell | February 13, 2013

Sophie Maxwell, Insight Director at Pearlfisher, wonders if big will always be beautiful when it comes to the idea of luxury space

Walker Tower New York City

Be it in relation to a penthouse or a mega-yacht, luxury space has always been a hot topic. Recently we have discussed the luxury hotel sector on Luxury Society and how these brands are finding ever more innovative and inventive ways to curate their space.

But with space per se – or rather the lack of it – becoming a global issue that will affect us all, we relished the opportunity to look at the continuing evolution and definition of the luxury space, over and above the hotel and hospitality sector, as it is forced to now meet the demands of society.

The new focus on space does present us with a very definitive and polarized picture. For every unique boutique hotel that introduces an original approach – even in the form of just one highly stylised room – there is a corresponding new luxury hotel suite or destination hotel that remains somewhat formulaic when it comes to fixtures and fittings and with its predilection for counting and marketing its square feet.

“ For every boutique hotel that introduces an original approach, there is a new luxury hotel suite that remains formulaic ”

And this picture is also now starting to be replicated by domestic and living space. Recent media stories have boasted about the launch of NY’s latest luxury apartment tower – The Walker Tower – listing facts and figures such as 18-inch walls for maximum privacy and floors so robust that they can bear 100lbs per square foot.

But, on the flip side, the media is also full of reports about how with space at a premium – particularly in our city centres – we all need to take responsibility for optimizing our living space.

Does this mean, that just as with the attention to detail approach established by the boutique hotel, we will now turn start to potentially view the small and modular as luxury? Is it all about perception? Not just the actual size of the space but the propensity for what you can actually do with – and within – the space.

At the end of last year social entrepreneur and ‘Mr Razzle Dazzle’ himself, Nick Jones, was reported to be moving out of his central London home with friends reported as saying that he and his family did not need such a vast residence in London.

“ Does this mean that we will now turn start to potentially view the small & modular as luxury? ”

An interesting (physical and mental) move from the man who has made his millions from creating and defining dedicated spaces – as the frontrunner of the country club retreat (Babington) and the city Private Member’s Club (Soho House) which spawned a generation of such establishments – Home House, Blacks, Hertford Street and Dover Street’s Arts Club.

All of these establishments were vying to offer bigger and better member benefits – and the ultimate new space between work and home in which to network, to see and be seen and with which to seal your status in your desired sector of society.

But as the Club scene has become prolific and somewhat commoditized maybe luxury leaders, such as Nick Jones, will once again be the ones to direct how much space we need and its uses? And this does neatly bring us to the next generation of luxury space which is looking to truly merge and morph the work/life balance and give us a new type of luxury lifestyle establishment.

Yo! Home by Simon Woodroffe

Enter new initiative like the ["Yo Home is the latest brainchild of Yo Sushi founder, entrepreneur and business guru Simon Woodroffe.

Though it may not be strictly luxury it does bring the benefits of it. His new Yo! Home invention expands the living space you are given: transforming the basic 800 sq feet living with 12 expertly designed moving parts and doors to provide you with 3-4 times that space.

Is it just a no frills approach to the question of space? Or, is it revolutionary brand design and creative stage management providing the utmost in your very own slice of theatre and experience? Time will tell.

But it’s not just hotel and domestic space that is coming under scrutiny but our work and leisure space is also expected to fulfill a new and very different role within today’s urban society.

“ Is it just no frills? Or, is it revolutionary brand design providing the utmost in your very own slice of theatre and experience? ”

The future of work seems to be an almost over-exposed topic already with daily macro projections coming from our insight and trend forecasters and the media relishing the attention-grabbing headlines that new ‘intelligently’ designed buildings afford – such as ‘Edible Edifices: building the offices of tomorrow’ (BBC).

We may work more autonomously and flexibly but we probably work harder than ever before and creating the optimum environment should rightly be front-of-mind as we look to the future. The luxury of working independently is already seen as passé with the literal definition of mobile working also beset with its own problems.

Instead, we are looking for newly creative, and co-operative spaces and the luxury of co-working in beautifully designed, unique and inspirational spaces.

Beko Complex in Belgrade by Zaha Hadid

And whilst these initiatives are endlessly fascinating and to be applauded for the rapid progress made, they are still not necessarily taking the concept of integrating work and a desirable lifestyle far enough. We now want to look one step beyond and see whether there is the opportunity to now engineer a completely new iteration of luxury, of space and most succinctly, and importantly, of luxury lifestyle.

Zaha Hadid’s designs for the Beko complex of apartments in Belgrade, Serbia (on the site of an abandoned textiles factory) includes offices, a congress centre, leisure facilities, galleries and shops as part of an integrated plan in which all the buildings flow from one to another, to start to ‘address the complexity of twenty-first century living patterns’ according to Hadid.

It’s early days. And we are bound to see similar ventures launch and – hopefully – different concepts that continue to optimize new and bold offers in ever more powerful, practical and pertinent ways to reflect the new physical and mental space that we expect luxury living today to occupy.

To further investigate interior design and real estate on Luxury Society, we invite your to explore the related materials as follows:

- Curating the Ultimate Luxury Hotel Experience
- Luxury Real Estate Prices Reach All New Heights
- Sara Cosgrove, Head of Interior Design, The Studio, Harrods

Analysis | Hospitality