Transparency versus mystery : The reality of imperfection versus the ideal of excellence
« Can you imagine the schizophrenia? Luxury is about cultivating mystery and excellence, and today luxury is asked to go towards transparency and, somehow the acceptance of being imperfect », summed up Barbara Coignet, as an aside of the press conference of the Biennial 1.618, the event dedicated to luxury and sustainable development that will be held at the Carreau du Temple from 1 to 3 June 2018, as an opening to the European Sustainable Development Week. The founder clearly summarized the scale of the challenge facing the major luxury brands. The objective is to allow us to approach this changing world in a very positive and desirable way « with hybrid, professional events, and also aimed at the general public aware of the stakes but expecting new sustainable products. It will be an inspiring space where you can meet companies, artists and enjoy live experiences, not to mention talks. In short, she adds, « creating a dynamic » by staging the ‘new Luxury’, an expression that the founder of the biennial prefers to that of ‘luxury and sustainable development’, because any luxury brand must be responsible today, she sums up.
Ironically, the luxury groups that have been on the avant garde of imaginative story telling praising values of excellence and desirability over the decades – inspiring a multitude of industries – will be absent from the event focusing on the staging of the new tools and the trades towards a more ethical luxury. « Luxury brands need, I think, to start showing their consumers that they do things, because they do great things. The final point is that they do great things as a group, but this is hardly felt in their brands. Imagine a big luxury brand confiding publicly: « Hey guys, look at me, I’m trying now, I can’t do it now. » continues the expert in the luxury sector. Is not unlearning to learn in order to reprogram oneself as an organization, as an individual, the most difficult and greatest challenge – the most beautiful mission statement towards sustainability as well?
For the time being, brands are struggling to get out of their comfort zone and reinvent storytelling in line with their internal actions to improve their practices and redesign a new luxury. « These luxury brands often tell us, » says Barbara Coignet, « that this awareness is indeed obvious and absolute and that they need to start the conversation with their consumers. By not saying anything, everyone starts to think they’re not doing anything. The brands are part of the renewal by financing young innovative start-ups, not yet by addressing the general public via partnerships with the Biennial 1.618, even if the brands will all come to discover the event, in preview on May 31.
While statements about sustainable development from major luxury brands are expected in the near future, we were told, the reinvention of luxury is publicly nestled especially on the side of emerging and independent brands. Some of them will be showcased at the event supported by a multitude of partners, including the New York Times, and for the first time, by the City of Paris. This recognizes the importance of the essential theme of Paris as the capital of fashion and Haute Couture.
Staging a new sustainable way of life with the presence of brands, products, works of art, solutions and change agents
This new luxury will be supported by around forty French and foreign brands from all fields of the art of living (architecture, design, mobility, tourism, gastronomy, new technology, fashion, jewellery, well-being, etc.). Many of them are emerging brands, structurally more efficient to position themselves as pioneers.
« Today, we are more relaxed, we have ourselves evolved with this new term ‘new luxury’, rather than ‘luxury and sustainable development’ which I hardly use anymore because, now, nine years after the first edition of the Biennale, luxury can no longer be unsustainable and not engaged ». In order to avoid greenwashing, the brands identified by the agency 1.618 had to meet creative, ethical and aesthetic criteria ensuring transparency and commitment. This validation committee brought together independent experts. Between 25% and 30% of applications were rejected.
Among the many brands present, let us mention three of them: the pioneering brand of ethical jewellery in France whose gold jewellery is certified Fairmined, JEM – Jewellery Ethically Minded. The traceability of the materials, French craftsmanship and ‘responsible know-how’ illustrate a new way of conceiving luxury. The world of sliding will be represented by Akonite, a creative and design laboratory, and spotted by major luxury players for the development of sustainable and environmentally friendly sports equipment (luge, ski, longboards, skateboards and accessories) made from vegetable-based fibres. Another example of an exhibitor: Instituto-E and the Osklen brand created under the impetus of its founder Oskar Metsavaht, delivering a ‘New Luxury’ motivated by the ideal of responsible fashion and sustainable luxury. While Osklen embodies new fashion, Instituto-E, in partnership with other research centres and institutions, identifies innovative and sustainable fabrics and materials such as fish skin processing, Amazonian jute or silk straw fibres… An immersion in the creation of new generation committed to excellence!
WASTE IS A RESOURCE
The contemporary art exhibition « Pure Waste » questions consciences and encourages reflections on the world around us and on our consumption patterns. The theme invites the visitors to consider waste as a resource, a cultural shift that is needed. Works by Eva Jospin (which the Daily Couture had already spotted at an exhibition in 2011 at the Espace Fondation EDF, with REHAB, the art of re-doing), Aliza Eliazarov, Benjamin Gaulon, Benjamin Sabatier, Mandy Barker, Laurent Gongora, Le Noueau Ministère de l’Agriculture, Lor K, Mathilde Pellé, Stéphane Perrraud and Aram Kebaddjian will be presented. Very promising, the selection of the works of « Pure Waste » was entrusted to Coal, a coalition for the art of sustainable development, created in France in 2008 by professionals in contemporary art, sustainable development and research.
INNER traveL IN THE RICH WORLD OF EMOTIONS
A breathing bubble will be embodied by Emotion Square, a non-commercial space, designed as a place to meet and experiment emotions. The space by Sybille Grandchamp, founder of the Les Merveilles, is a platform de dicated to inner travel. This « space deliberately devoid of technology leaves room for the human, the presence of bodies, and the interaction of emotions”. It wishes to enchant visitors with gustatory, sensory, olfactory and visual immersions, without forgetting literary happenings to live the intimate experience of reading. Let us praise the slowness inherent in this new luxury.
Meeting with change agents
In addition to the three prizes that will honor companies with the « HEC & 1.618 Sustainable Luxury Award », the « Coup de Coeur du Jury » and the « Prix du Public 1.618 », a round table programme will cover the following topics:
FRIDAY JUNE 1ST
11:30 – 13:00 « RESPONSIBLE FINANCE, NEW TRANSITION ACCELERATOR » (in English)
14H30 – New Hero: Oskar Metsavaht – Privileged testimony
15:00 – 16:30 « RESPONSIBLE SOURCING AND INNOVATIVE SOLUTIONS FOR THE CREATIVE INDUSTRY »
17H00 – 18H30 » LUXURY AND BIOMIMETISM: HOW CAN THE LUXURY INDUSTRY TO BE INSPIRED BY NATURE? « IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CEEBIOS
SATURDAY 2 JUNE
11:00 – 12:30 « THE LABORATORY DIAMOND, THE NEW FUTURE OF ETHICAL JEWELLERY »
15H30 – New Hero: Yacine Aït Kaci – Privileged testimony
16H00 – 17H30 « EMOTION, THE NEW LUXURY OF THE 21ST CENTURY »
17H30 – 19H00 « THE FUTURE OF MOBILITY: DESIGN FICTION 2040 »
SUNDAY JUNE 3RD
11:00 – 12:30 « ANTICIPATING THE NEW REQUIREMENTS OF ALPHAS: BRANDS IN THE FACE OF FUTURE GENERATIONS »
14H00 – 15H30 « VR & IA, INTELLIGENT TECHNOLOGIES FOR THE PLANET »
16H00 – 17H30 » BUT WHAT IS THE BLOCKCHAIN? »
17H30 – 19H00 « PHILOSOPHY 1.618 : BEAUTY AND UNIVERSAL HARMONY IN THE SERVICE OF CHANGE »
Site of Biennale 1.618