Consumption picks up, but the values that guide the luxury market have changed. Architects and entrepreneurs used to design for the ‘happy few’ say so

After the past year of everyone finding their safe place, returning home’ provided a place of refuge and safety”. Michael Gabellini, architect and partner of the New York studio Gabellini Sheppard Associates, creates spaces where beauty is expressed through the simplicity and refinement of the choice. “The concept of luxury has been altered more than ever, by elevating the daily activities of life”.

“It is a return to basics by embracing the essential things of domestic life that are needed to sustain and re-balance a live-work routine”, explains Gabellini, “How can residential life be more responsive to our needs? By using the four elements of light, air, sound, and water to create living environments that both enable social reconnection and foster a sense of warmth and comfort. The new luxury is about simplifying everything one needs in their home to create a more harmonious living environment. If design is a catalyst for change, as designers we can positively influence the outcome of a relationship or family dynamic by creating a space that is tailored for the residents, giving them what they want by enhancing what they need”.

Looking for new connections

The new luxury”, continues Gabellini, “it is about simplifying what is needed to create a more harmonious living environment. If design is a catalyst for change, we designers can positively influence the result of a relationship or family dynamic by creating a tailor-made space for residents, interpreting needs and always bringing them into a dimension that combines high quality and dreams.”.

The numbers also say it

The luxury sector therefore grows but also changes. First of all in numbers. The update of the Altagamma Consensus 2021, in fact, records a slight increase in the sector's recovery estimates for 2021. With China confirming itself as the engine of the recovery, thanks to the continuous repatriation of purchases and the acceleration of domestic spending, the United States keeping pace and Europe falling behind, hampered by a slow-moving vaccination campaign and a lack of international tourism.

But luxury also changes from the inside, in the impulses that drive it. In fact, the Bain Altagamma Monitors on World Markets confirm two trends intercepted in the luxury market last year. The first is environmental and social awareness and the transition to a Conscious Luxury. This will lead companies to intervene especially in areas such as the life cycle of products, the control of the production chain and the management of unsold items. And through the new ways of consumption it will be possible to work on a new Humanism, a luxury attentive to the well-being of people, society and the environment as well as a new focus on diversity and talents within the company.

Read also: an old townhouse renovated by Gabellini Sheppard Associates in New York


Digital, never again without

During this year, 85% of luxury purchases will be influenced by the digital world. Nonetheless, human contact remains necessary and, both in stores and remotely, these interactions will continue to play a vital role in retaining customers.

“The gross operating margin of companies touches + 30% driven by domestic consumption and the explosion of online sales, which rose from 23% to 30%”, confirmed Stefania Lazzaroni, general manager of Altagamma. “The performance of brands that have been able to invest in digitization and greater price control improved.

The distribution channels, increasingly omnichannel, have been remodeled, and so have the media ecosystem and product innovation: online dominates where half of the sales are headed by digital multistore, also supported by “second hand, a 28 billion euro market in 2020.

Personal relationships, on and off line

“We arrived at e-commerce with conviction six years ago by activating collaborations with native e-commerce companies, such as and, platforms created for the trade of quality design products”, tells Eleonore Cavalli, founder and art director of the Visionnaire furniture brand. “What we have done in recent months has been to expand partnerships in the world of art design and collecting. We also worked a lot on Lead profiling, which gave us excellent results”.

Leggi anche l'intervista a Eleonore Cavalli sul confine tra arte e design

“In this alternation of closures and openings”, continues Cavalli, “we inaugurated the virtual tours in our stores by sharing with customers the activities that proceeded, from design to development of collections and finishes; we never stopped and this has rewarded us. We could connect independently but we also created a concierge service that was able to accompany customers on virtual visits, consolidating personal relationships that remain essential for the development of our business”.

The art director of Visionnaire concludes: “What for Altagamma – Conscious Luxury – is a trend that is confirming itself, for us it has been the path taken since 2019 that we have defined Meta-Luxury, referring to our Latin culture. The ethical values of the company, its heritage, the territorial social responsibility and the support to the artisan districts (haute couture of furniture) which now makes use of cutting-edge techniques and technologies, were the themes of our story in digital”.