Sustainable Sophistication

Trendupdate October 2011

Oct 11, 2011 by Irene Vermeulen

Global challenges are driving social, green and fair product innovation. We can say that sustainable has gone mainstream, and we should all be proud of that. But with products becoming more mainstream and accessible, they also become more common. And as every brand owner knows, differentiation is key to success. So how to stand out in a crowded marketplace with sustainable products?

Products
As Umair Haque writes in 'The New Capitalist Manifesto' we should go from 'goods to betters' to deal with the crises we are in. Luckily, many businesses are developing sustainable products. In all segments of the market, on every price level and in every category, alternative products can be found. We believe that while businesses have increasingly worked on the reduction of waste in their production, the use of organic or recycled raw materials, and better conditions for workers, the product itself has not changed dramatically.

Attitudes
This while consumer attitudes have changed enormously. People do not spend money carelessly nowadays, and have become more picky and critical when purchasing. But they are still craving for luxury and excitement, and are falling for exclusive products with stories attached. It is just not the in-your-face glitter and glamour kind of luxury anymore, but a more sober and understated luxury. Therefore, in the hi end market segments, there are great opportunities for brands and businesses to go beyond beauty, and go for sophistication.

Craftscurator has selected 8 examples of sophistication;

  • buy once, products that last a lifetime, like a Wegner wishbone chair;
  • perfect simplicity, a product that just works, like the sturdy, lightweight bamboo pouf by Johannes Foersom;
  • limited editions, of very exclusive and outstanding craftmanship, like the roomdivider by Hermes Home;
  • collector's items, like the Vitra bird by the Bouroullecs, allows consumers to add to their collection;
  • sensible solutions, in the line of 'why haven't we always done it like this' Bolefloor wooden flooring using natural curves;
  • outstanding design, like the accordion cabinet by Elisa Strozyk, using the paradox of making wood flexible;
  • design povera, using poor materials for luxury products, like the straw closet by Campana brothers;
  • disposable design, proving even throw-away stuff needs to look good, like the paper picknick set by Wasara

Stand out
In the luxury market, a real status shift is going on. Much like the spiritual mantra 'beauty is on the inside', real luxury and quality are rooted in the heart and soul of the product and brand. By linking sustainable values to understated beauty, your brand can stand out and enjoy a long term success. For brands and businesses, making a bold move like this takes a lot of guts. If you make sure the steps you take are rooted in your identity, it will all be a very natural process. So be bold, be daring and go for sophistication.

More on consumer attitudes and how your business can benefit from understanding those in the Trend Guide on home decoration and handmade design 2013. Get the guide now, or visit the Trend Event.

slow woodumair haque, hans wegner, johannes foersom, hermes home, vitra, bolewood, elisa strozyk, edra, wasara 

Design Povera
Straw closet by Campana brothers for Edra
Buy Once
Hans Wegner wishbone chair
Collector's items
Vitra bird, Bouroullec brothers
Disposable design
Wasara paper picknick set as seen in Wallpaper
Limited editions
Hermes Home
Perfect Simplicity
Pouf by Johannes Foersom
Example of sophistication
Slow Wood
Outstanding design
Flexible Wood by Elisa Strozyk
Sensible solutions
Bolewood floor
Example of sophistication
Slow Wood