The craving for possession does not lead to luxury but to its worthless simulacrum. What is luxury then?

*Gian Paolo Venier, interior designer

I love objects of an almost bulimic love: I collect, preserve, live in symbiosis with things. At the same time, however, when I find myself faced with surplus, I feel an air of misery. It seems an incongruity but it is not. Because the difference, as often happens in important life matters, is not in what but in how something is done. What moves me in my accumulations, in fact, is not the act of buying, nor the fun of shopping, but the desire to protect objects that are worthwhile – those that carry beauty – from bad luck. That is, from falling into unwitting hands.

Luxury and accumulation

There is a huge difference between this protective instinct and the desire for possession. The desire to protect is in fact intimate, it feeds on research and self-discovery, while that of possessing sees us victims of external forces that lead us to overestimate needs, playing with our desire to define ourselves for what we have more than for what we are, relying on the lack of autonomous thought and identity.

The result is the gadgetisation of existence: having a lot, a lot, with a total lack of measure. Which, really, is very far from the essence of luxury.

Sense of measure, luxury and design

What is luxury then? Luxury is a departure from real necessity (hence its apparent superfluousness) which, however, does not become sterile redundancy because it arises from the intimate understanding of things.

In this sense, there is no luxury without measure, that is, without the ability to identify context and needs, without a true understanding of ourselves, of what is around us and of what is happening to us.

Measurement is therefore design in a broader sense: it is knowing how to design one's life in relation to objects, spaces, experiences with a rightness that comes from the knowledge of oneself and of what is outside oneself.

Luxury needs knowledge

Without knowledge, therefore, there is no real luxury but only a luxury market.

Knowledge is also a luxury, one might say. A little bit true. But it is a luxury within everyone's reach because it comes from study and the ability to consider what happens to us, from experiences and relationships, as an opportunity to get to know and open up.

The spread of luxury

If we were all hungry for knowledge, some kind of coarse, sassy and toxic luxury would no longer exist. To eliminate it, it would be necessary to educate the public to grasp the true meaning of things, their value: which is not communicated with a glamorous image or with advertising constructions that feed dreams of possession but by telling stories: true, intense, human. Stories that help us to see behind and inside things to grasp their sincere value. And, then, our bulimia – if it still exists – will be only and only love and no longer possession.


Cover photo, art direction and styling by Gian Paolo Venier for an Airnova Design shooting.