S’AVANT Issue 01: A Digital Renaissance

Welcome to S’AVANT, a series bridging design and tech innovations with branding strategies. Focused on the most relevant insights across the design industry and the latest emerging trends, this series is here to help you stay updated and future proof your strategies. In this first issue, the Mayumi Collective & ALAN ARONICA Design Studio will share their insights on how the world is now entering a new age of Digital Renaissance, an epoch driven by independent creators, shifting the paradigms of luxury and industrial manufacturing at a global scale. 

The Future Has Arrived

If we look at what's happening around the world today, one of the most interesting and exciting things is this feeling that we are entering a new era; and that the "future" is no longer a distant concept but a presence, constantly reshaping our daily reality. To thread on William Gibson's famous quote, it’s probably safe to say that “the future is now getting more evenly distributed”. Thanks to many emerging technologies and their accessibility, as well as the availability of knowledge and ease in the exchange of ideas over the internet, more and more generations are becoming empowered to execute their creative visions. Enriching the cultural diversity of our global society with their ideas. A historical reference of the times we live in could only be found in the Italian Renaissance. This epoch was an efflorescence of timeless creativity that managed to reach a level of expression so high and pure that to this day we still contemplate it. This was made possible not just by the presence of incredible raw talent, but by the empowerment that they received. Empowerment made possible by the emergence of new technologies and supported by the vast amount of richness gained through commerce by city-states like Rome, Venice and Milan. Similarly today, complex technologies, that could previously be afforded only by large corporations, are now finding their ways into our homes, becoming more reliable and most importantly economically affordable to almost everyone. Equally important is that in contrast to the past when all the factors had to be happening simultaneously, in the same place, things are now happening in a decentralised way all over the planet and therefore, in a more democratised way. Thanks to the internet and globalisation, new technology can emerge from one place and be readily applied across borders, where individuals can employ it to create, execute and share their vision with an engaged global audience. This is the Digital Renaissance.   

The New Luxury

In the past, luxury was a status often defined by the scarcity of the object and how hard it was to gather the raw materials to manufacture it. At the same time, before the Industrial Revolution, the creative process of the artisans, ancestors to the modern designers, was radically different. Back then the design was mostly created on the fly, starting from an idea but then shaped around the imperfections and details of the materials. There was an ongoing conversation between the creator and the materials. However, with the Industrial Revolution, the process was radically altered to meet the demand of numerous copies of a product required to return great investments made upfront. The design process and its execution got separated. What we are seeing now is a new generation of designers forming, one that is projected towards the future but at the same time is closer than ever to its roots in artisanship. A new generation of makers that is more aware, conscious, and capable of looking at the whole life cycle of a product. 

Genuine Connections In A Digitized World

From exclusive to inclusive, timeless to timely, the luxury industry is evolving to appeal to the new wave of consumers who have been raised by the internet. Juan DeLeon, Editorial Director of Highsnobiety and co-editor of the book The New Luxury says “New Luxury isn’t about price, it’s about culture, community, the values we share —aligning ourselves with brands who can help enhance that worldview.” [1] With the rise of ‘in-the-moment”’ features embedded onto social media apps such as Instagram Live or Stories that disappear within 24 hours, our social interactions extend beyond the physical realm and take on a new dimension digitally. Allowing us to experience the world through various cultural lenses of our rapidly evolving social fabric. 

With that as a backdrop, luxury brands have transformed themselves into an elevated sense of community that welcomes diversity and embraces uniqueness as its social currency through memorable and well-curated experiences such as AR/VR tryouts [2] for products, virtual fashion shows and seamless omnichannel integrations for instant purchasing. Brands such as Loewe have reimagined traditional runway shows [3] through portable boxes showcasing their entire collection in a socially distanced environment. For smaller and independent luxury brands, social media has provided an even playing field to interact with consumers that previously required huge ad spends and a longer process to build an audience base. 

As the influx of interactive features heightens engagement across content online, traditional luxury brands view the need to diverge away from archaic marketing strategies; as smaller, avant-garde brands are proving to be highly competitive with their innovative digital approach to storytelling and agility to prototype and head straight to market faster than traditional brands. 

At first glance, luxury brands and social media seem to be on opposite ends of the spectrum as social media is highly accessible by the masses. However, with Millenials and Gen Z audiences dominating social platforms, luxury brands that embrace innovative technological integrations within their marketing strategies can build positive brand affinities with an audience that is eager to try on fresh digital experiences. 

Conclusion

With the pandemic accelerating unforeseen digital disruptions, industries have entered a Digital Renaissance of their own which has become a launching pad for many innovations to bring the future to life sooner than anticipated particularly with the luxury industry. Accessibility to create, curate and experience high-quality products and services are now more than a possibility, thanks to digital connections and the wider share of information. From a consumer standpoint, the narrative of luxury branding has also evolved into a more inclusive conversation around social issues and diversity while still maintaining the aspirational and alluring aspects of the luxe experience. 

In the next issue, we will take a deep dive into the world of biodesign and how it has evolved as a discipline over the years. Exploring how designers are pioneering new ways to establish biodesign as the standard and no longer an alternative due to the current climate emergency we are facing today.  
References

[1] Luxiders. New Luxury | Redefining Luxury in the Age of Sustainability. https://luxiders.com/new-luxury-redefining-luxury-in-the-age-of-sustainability/

[2] Luxury Daily. Gucci takes AR tech to Snapchat for footwear virtual trial and eventual purchase. https://www.luxurydaily.com/gucci-takes-ar-tech-to-snapchat-for-footwear-virtual-trial-and-eventual-purchase/

[3] Hypebeast. LOEWE's SS21 Collection Is Almost Entirely Inspired by Circles. https://hypebeast.com/2020/7/loewe-spring-summer-2021-collection-menswear-show-in-a-box-jonathan-anderson 

  

About Mayumi Collective:

Founded by Ysabella Louise, Mayumi Collective is an online platform featuring emerging design creatives, while also exploring global design trends and offering consultative market insights on branding and content incubation.

About ALAN ARONICA Design Studio:

ALAN ARONICA Design Studio operates at the convergence of Ars & Technē, exploring emerging innovations as a medium to bring the future closer.

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