A chandelier composed of network of bronze and individual dandelion seeds hangs in a black room,opposite a foaming neckpiece, knitted with thousands of silvery threads. An eighteenth century Rococo crown juts in gold, diamonds, emeralds and rubies, topped with a golden Eagle in flight. We have a headpiece of golden fleece, braided into a flaming headpiece, worthy of Jason and his Argonauts.
Giovanni Corvaja’s Golden Fleece Headpiece (2009)
And yet, this new exhibition a not merely a parade of opulence: the prices of these objects are invisible. What is really on display here is exceptional craftsmanship. These objects are made with such consideration that they become more than their sum of their, very expensive, parts. "I never think about the money side of it", says Dominic Wilcox, creator of 24 carat gold skimming stones. "I just want to make the ordinary extraordinary."
It isn't all mind-boggling bling though: the exhibition examines the changing nature of luxury, too. In our age of GPS, iPhones and emails on the go, the possibility of exploration has diminished. There's a beautiful toolkit entitled Time for Yourself, which includes a watch with no hands, cashmere rug and compass which points to random co-ordinates. This apparatus, designed to disorientate, is a mischievous update on the golden timepieces on display just next door.
Marcin Rusak(concept Marcin Rusak in collaboration with Iona Inglesby), Time For Yourself, 2013, © Marcin Rusak
We have to wonder, what forms luxury might take in the future? We think of plastic as disposable, but as our supplies of natural oil dwindle, could plastic products become luxury goods? A DNA vending machine by American artist Gabriel Barcia-Colombo conjures up a nightmarish future when retaining possession of our own genetic material has become a luxury. Studio Swine have created a striking dressing table out of human hair, set in resin: one of the few natural resources that increases along with the world's population.
These extraordinary objects, from the sublime to the ridiculous, mark the past, present and future of luxury items. Pop in to Harrods on your way home.
|What||What is Luxury?, V&A|
|Where||V&A, South Kensington, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 2RL | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
25 Apr 15 – 27 Sep 15, Daily 10.00–17.30 Friday 10.00–21.30
|Website||Click here for more details|