First, there was the need to have something above your head. Then you made that beautiful. Later, you noticed that others have it even more beautiful and defined the term: luxurious in the English language started happening in the seventeenth century.
Coming from a French term underscored by sexual meaning, luxury first referred to indulgence, wealth, opulence. Before that, “luxuria” was the term ancient Romans expressed their disdain towards sinful excess and reckless living. By the seventeenth century, the term permeated the English language, and since then, it has evolved in many different forms to a point where today, if you hadn’t noticed, every home and every design, if not luxurious, is bad design.
Luxury today maintains its lifestyle connotations that the Romans gave it. We see it in hospitality experiences and, more recently, in retail. Everything is about the experience. Driven without a doubt by the millennials’ assertiveness in the world and their generational values, ownership is nothing if not accompanied by a process as enjoyable as the objects themselves.
Of course, materialism probably will never disappear – having grown up in a communist country, I could never imagine going back to an imposed system of owning the same as everyone else – which, by the way, never happened no matter how much they tried but instead – discrepancies became bigger.
So where does that leave us in terms of designating a superlative, something that is beyond the norm?
Rare. Unique. Special. These three coveted hallmarks of luxury are here to remain. The question is, what will fit that description. Certainly not every home and every project, every corner store and every product or experience. When the unique becomes the norm, a new term is required to distinguish further that which remains, after all, distinguishable. “Ultra-luxury” was proposed a few years back, and it stuck. Is it the right term? I think not. But cannot, for now, think of a better one. We ran out of words, so we piggybacked them together one over another to get to the top of the heap.
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