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4 trends in design and luxury that you should know about

Altagamma, Italy’s luxury association, amasses the country’s cultural and creative institutions in various sectors. Its members include power players in fashion, design, jewellery, food and beverage, hospitality, automotive, yachts and wellness. To explore the future of Italian excellence in lifestyle, the organisation launched its first creative thinking forum, “Next Design Perspectives”, at its headquarters in Milan.

The event, in collaboration with WGSN, aimed to discuss the macro trends in design and creativity and present the blueprint on how they are set to change our lives.

The first edition was attended by some of the world’s most innovative business and creative minds, including Marco Bizzarri, president and CEO of Gucci, and design guru Philippe Starck.

It examines the year 2020, deemed by many as a threshold that will reshape the future. Here are four key observations from the seminars.

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1. Politics is the challenge

“In the long term, the biggest challenge for the luxury industry is political instability,” said Andrea Illy, chairman of illycaffè and chairman of Altagamma.

From Brexit in the UK to Trumpism in the US and the US-China trade war, the current political landscape will have lasting effects beyond 2020.

As countries and administrations focus on growing domestic economy, local business will thrive; what’s local will become global. More traditional artistries and local materials will be reinvented and reused with contemporary skills and new technology.

Facing the challenge of nationalism, brands continue to seek global growth. Designers will take a more “co” approach in their business strategies: collaborative, cooperative and conversational.

Collaboration is already a winning initiative for brands like Rimowa and Gucci, and will continue to be the bridge in eliminating national and racial barriers. Moreover, products are poised to incorporate social value.

Social media was recognised to be the primary tool for different races, generations and demographics to connect and interact. Finding common ground between global consumers and different political agendas will be a challenge as well an opportunity.

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2. M for millennials … and Muslims

The 2016 State of the Global Islamic Economy Report predicts that Muslim expenditure on clothing is estimated to reach US$327 billion next year. It will surmount the total sum of a few current mainstream countries, which are the UK (US$107 billion), Germany (US$99 billion) and India (US$96 billion).

Future growth is further projected. The group’s contribution to beauty is expected to reach US$213 billion by 2021, and their spending on travel is estimated to reach US$300 billion.

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This means brands will be driven to develop and invest in the Muslim market, territorially and globally. From modest fashion styles and halal beauty to Muslim culture-friendly travel, it’s the age of Generation M.

“Generation M and Generation C [Chinese] are paramount to us. “The idea with Gucci is we do something we like, following our own passion,” said Bizzarri. “We make sure our products and communications make sense to all ranges of consumers.”

3. Less is more

In fashion, craftsmanship will be more appreciated by consumers than fast or mass products.

“If humans want to survive, the ecological solution is to consume less. As designers and creators, we need to find a positive de-growth,” said Starck. “The most modern word for everything is longevity; quality will be the winning card.”

Experiences are more important than products. For instance, luxury’s biggest player, LVMH, has spent US$3.2 billion to acquire the Belmond hotel group, which owns 46 hotels – including the Hotel Cipriani in Venice – and the Orient Express to offer a holistic luxury experience.

This is further supported by a McKinsey Company report, which revealed that consumers have been increasingly choosing experiences over designer goods, and the spending on experiences grew four times faster than the spending on products in 2017. Consumers will also look for and cherish slowness and stillness.

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4. ‘Biofacturing’: grow the future

Biofacturing is a system of production that sees humans working with nature to grow materials and objects.

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Designers, manufacturers and artists work symbiotically with biology and fuse the craft of design directly with nature. Examples comprise lab-grown diamonds and fabrics, as well as earthy processes and applications such as Gavin Munro’s furniture, which is organically grown from trees.

“We need to think about how to survive in the no-plastic era,” said Starck.

Biofacturing enables a significant cut on production and waste as the products can be grown to better meet the required functionality. It also minimises or eliminates the burden on landfills through recycling and reusing raw materials.

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