As the title suggests, the V&A exhibition What is Luxury? aims to interrogate and expand understandings of luxury by presenting exceptional examples of contemporary design and craftsmanship alongside conceptual projects which interrogate fundamental ideas of luxury, its production and future. Over 100 objects address how luxury is made and understood in a physical, conceptual and cultural capacity.
The opening section of the exhibition considers objects defined as luxurious by the excellence of their design and craftsmanship. Seemingly disparate objects are juxtaposed and presented alongside terminology associated with luxury in order to focus on specific aspects of its many possible interpretations. Bowls by the artist Chung Hae-Cho created entirely through building up multiple layers of lacquer are placed alongside a menswear ensemble by designer Carol Christian Poell, known for his devotion to critically examining and perfecting techniques of tailoring. The grouping demonstrates how a high level of expertise is refined and investigated in making exquisitely finished objects.
In the next section of the exhibition, What is Luxury? underlines time and space as fundamental aspects constituting luxury, especially within a 21st-century urban context. Works including Time for Yourself, a playful toolkit for misdirection which features a watch with no dial and a compass which spins to random co-ordinates, invite visitors to contemplate the idea of getting lost and their relationship to the luxuries of space and time.
The exhibition speculates about the future of luxury by presenting a range of design and art projects which interrogate relationships between luxury, value and materials. Hair Highway sets human hair in resin to create highly decorative pieces of furniture and accessories. It also provokes thinking and debate through fictional scenarios that consider issues like privacy, resources and access that could determine future ideas of luxury.
Through the movement from more traditional explanations of luxury to conceptual projects, What is Luxury? aims to take visitors on a journey and prompt them to consider what luxury means and how it relates to their own lives. The last project interpreted the idea that the question of luxury is ultimately a personal one. In the motion picture, The Last Man, it can be seen that freedom to dream and the ability to take decisions are fundamental to enjoying luxury, and enjoying or affording luxury is not only a question of budget but of individual circumstances and preferences.
展覽的第一部分體現了精妙的設計或高超的手工業技術。策展人特地將一些看起來似乎並沒有太大關聯的展品陳列在同一個展櫃裏——它們都傳釋了各種不同的“奢侈”。在一個展櫃中，韓國設計師鄭解朝（Chung Hae-Cho）的漆碗與澳大利亞設計師卡羅·克裡斯丁·波艾樂（Carol Christian Poell）的精美訂製男裝一併展示，共同闡釋了高超的專業技術在制造精妙產品時的重要地位。
在展覽的另一個展區中，策展人著重強調了在21世紀城市話語背景之下，時間和空間這兩個元素在組成“奢侈”這一概念中的重要地位。《你自己的時間（Time for Yourself）》這組展品是一套具有誤導功能的玩物工具套裝，例如沒有指針的手錶，亂指方向的指南針，這些都讓觀者審視人們在時間與空間中獲得迷失的“奢侈”。
通過對“奢侈品”的傳統釋義和未來概念的對比，策展人希望在帶著觀者感受奢侈品的發展歷史的同時，讓人們重新思考奢侈的定義，及它與我們生活的關系。在展覽的最後，一部概念短片《最後一個人（The Last Man）》很好地詮釋了展覽的核心觀點——“奢侈品是什麽”這一問題的答案永遠是個人化的。短片告訴我們，自由、夢想，以及作出決定的能力，是享受“奢侈”最必不可少的東西。享受奢侈品並不是一個關於錢的問題，而是一個與個人境況和喜好有關的問題。
展覽場地：Victoria & Albert Museum
展覽時間：25.04.2015 – 27.09.2015
Edited by Qiwen Ke