THE ULTIMATE LUXURY isn’t a material item, a property or a possession. It can’t be measured in dollars or square meters. The ultimate luxury is time. Luxury design is therefore entirely about improving the quality of that time, or saving time that could be better spent.
Used in the right way, technology can be transformational in luxury design. Within years, not decades, it will change our homes and how we live in them. The technology of the near future will even transform the meaning of the word “home.”
“Anywhere is home,” said President and Chief Technical Officer of LG Electronics, Dr. I. P. Park, during his address at the 2019 IFA conference in Berlin. “It’s that space of comfort, your own place, a nest of ultimate personalization where things are to your liking.”
Luxury isn’t just a matter of fine-tuning your home or workplace environment to get it “just so.” It can be a sophisticated system that ensures your needs and comforts travel with you everywhere. Think of it as a personal bliss bubble: all your preferences automatically coming into play in all your places. Imagine the way your favorites and settings from your browser are automatically there on your phone or tablet… only for life itself.
“Whether it’s your car, office or school, the key is that you are able to keep that ‘homeness’ wherever you go and have things just how you like them,” says Dr. Park. “Settings for appliances and furniture, environmental conditions, or your favorite content or experience. So our job with AI [Artificial Intelligence] is to deliver on that expression: ‘home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling.’”
Our smartphones and wearables then make our preferences portable and pinpoint our location. Another area that will see marked change is transport, with self-driving vehicles releasing us to truly enjoy our journeys because we are at “home” on the move.
“Let’s say tomorrow morning I have to be in Paris for a breakfast meeting,” says Maurice Conti, a leading futurist and Chief Innovation Officer of Telefonica’s Barcelona innovation lab, Alpha.
Technology can help us live artfully:
an elevated existence.
“I could order an autonomous car to pick me up this evening. I could enjoy a theater-like experience, watching a movie on a beautiful screen with a state-of-the-art sound system, then go to sleep in a comfortable bed, only to wake up in Paris in time to freshen up and have my meeting. I don’t care that I can fly there in one hour. I would much rather have that quiet and peaceful eight-hour experience.”
Technology will also reduce the need for travel. Virtual meetings will increasingly do the job just as well as convening. Immersive virtual reality headsets, and vivid OLED screens with pin-sharp 8K pictures, will conjure up lifelike images that let you experience new places without leaving your home.
TRADITION AND DISRUPTION
Meanwhile the traditional values that have always defined the luxury design of any space remain unchanged.
“We’re in a time when there’s a lot of disruption of all kinds—and this industry is no different,” says New York-based interior designer Dan Fink. “But luxury will always be about the finest materials and treating them in the most crafted and careful ways. I am a firm believer that any space can be made magical with the right ingredients and the right attention to detail.”
Mr. Fink has unique insight into technology in luxury homes. He started out in Silicon Valley and still has many clients there, senior figures in the tech industry. He and his clients tend to see it practically, as a tool. It’s neither a status symbol nor something to be hidden.
“They want technology to improve their lives,” says Mr. Fink. “The leading consideration is what’s going to make my life better, easier, simpler.”
One such product is the new LG SIGNATURE Rollable TV, designed for the most luxurious contemporary spaces and the most discerning customers. Its large OLED screen is just 0.2 millimeters thick and, when not in use, it disappears. Say a voice command and the flexible screen rolls into a spiral, hidden inside a discreet, minimalist table designed by Foster + Partners.
Mr. Fink is also fond of using screens to do more, for example displaying art: “Our devices can be a way to keep personal memories or touchstones of inspiration nearby. The screens can display works of favorite artists, faraway travels, museum treasures—and become a living scrapbook or inspiration board. That’s what we do at our office.” The designers at LG are working on technology that goes far beyond voice control, to ensure that it truly works for us. Connected devices will be able to compare notes with each other—within our smart home and beyond, collaborating with their peers to learn new skills. We will delegate tasks to these intelligent systems and they will act like perfect PAs, intuitively anticipating our movements and needs, potentially knowing us better than we know ourselves.
“The AI evolves by learning through continued and accumulating interaction with its user,” says Dr. Park. “So the more you use it, the better it understands you—your living patterns, your preferences, your style and even your feelings. These devices get better and better over time.”
SMART MEETS SMART
“Something very special happens when you connect smart machines to each other,” adds Mr. Conti. “When one machine learns a thing, all machines can know that thing, almost instantly. So, if a cleaning robot learns how to solve a new problem in a house here in Berlin, it can teach all of its cousins around the world, instantly. The next morning, all of the cleaners know how to do that new thing, perfectly.”
Your devices will learn from you, noticing small details and tailoring your experience accordingly. Devices will share notes. Your preferences will travel with you on your smartphone, not just to your workplace and self-driving car, but beyond.
Location sensors on your phone mean the car will drive itself to your door in readiness when you’re about to leave. The boardroom will know you’re coming and set the thermostat just right. The boutique will know your clothes size and style. The restaurant will highlight your likely favorites on the menu and have your preferred wines on standby.
“Living in an artful way is something that distinguishes us as a species,” says Mr. Fink. “And technology can help us live artfully: an elevated existence, a transcendent way of living. It can help us live our best lives.”
The ultimate luxury is time because it is finite and precious. Luxury design will let intelligent technology deal with all the trivialities so that you don’t have to, maximizing your time for the things that matter to you.
Support Design & Fashion Magazine