form + material perception of Luxury products

Well, i am doing a reasearch for my grad. project on the way that form and materials of luxury products are perceived by people.

I am trying to answer questions such as:

“which are the attributes of the materials that characterise them as luxurious?”

" we talk about luxurious materials but can we talk about forms that express luxury?"

" what combinations of materials or forms are perceived as luxurious?"

I have already done a quite extensive research through scientific papers, internet etc. but i have not found something really answering these questions.

I wonder if any of you has any suggestion on where to research…

thank you in advance


Hi Alexandros,

You’re not going to find anything useful from scientific papers, because luxury depends on perception through context and culture. I think you’ll have to find another way into the question.

One way would be to look at how people in the past have defined luxury- “The Embarrassment of Riches” is a classic book looking at how the Dutch handled their wealth during the past 2-300 years. (Since you have NL in your location)

Another would be to see how food and cuisine has defined luxury.
How has a newly rich community defined luxury? How about lottery winners?
All very topical and have a lot of journalists providing the needed reference materials.

These could all give you a way into finding your answers. Good luck.

I would create a Style Matrix:

Matrix: Era X, Location Y
(ex: Global Human History or North American Contemporary)

Columns: Categories of Luxury
(ex: food, clothing, transportation, jewelry, architecture, products…)
(or get specific: coats, cars, watches, homes, silverware)

Rows: Elements of Luxury
(ex: color, finish, material, shape, style…)

Populate the matrix with exemplary photographs and extract the defining elements.

Luxury is usually expressed through the effort in bringing quality. So it doesn’t mean that using gold or diamonds will suggest luxury.

Quality is expressed through material usage PLUS details. Details like how you combine and craft materials. The way the leather is stretched, stitched. How the treatment on the edge of material is(rounded, chamfered, or left untreated) so on and so forth.

Also, this is my opinion, luxury shouldn’t be something that makes one uncomfortable to be in presence of. Luxury should be admirable yet approachable. Therefore, using Sultan of Brunei’s gold covered toilet may make me feel uncomfortable, thus isn’t a form of luxury, but more like stress.

Real luxury is not perceived, but felt.

First of all i apologize for my very late reply :blush: . Thank yoiu very much for your input.

@jimr : My univeristy is technical and they really value the reference to “scientific” papers. I also do not really agree that these papers can provide important information but also it worth to see how academics perceive luxury. Of course and i will try to extract info from magazines and other similar sources! thanks also for the book suggestion!

@ cg: i was thinking for a matrix as a next step. however, thanks a lot for the input and the suggestions! really appreciated.

@molested_cow : interesting points… in fact in one paper, they did a distinction between "luxury"and “prestige” products where the first ones are more associated with showing off factors and the later ones as products that demonstrate unique human achievement (craftmanship, performance etc).

still open to any suggestion! thanks a lot!

We’ve also heard about mass-luxury - the democratization of luxury. Luxury was once the domain of those who’re really rich, the aristocrats, the upper-class. Now we may have ordinary folks who isn’t really rich but will still splurge for specific “luxury” items anyway.

And when the commoners get their hands on the traditional symbols of luxury (e.g. LV bags), they start to lose their value as status symbols or icons; so the quest for ever higher ultra-luxury continues…

This link may be quite useful -


thank you for the link! very interesting effort in total.

Yeap, i do know the massclusivity effect and as you mention LV is really facing a problem as their products (especially the canvas ones) are now a comodity and not products of luxury (plus some rumours say that they will move part of their production in China! Celine has already done it!).