By Stephanie Anton, President of Luxury Portfolio International®
While in real estate, we often say it’s “location, location, location” and yet, for today’s savvy, sophisticated consumer, architecture and interior design can often play nearly as strong a role as location when it comes to selecting a property. While it is true, most buyers begin by looking in a particular area, for luxury buyers in particular, a known designer can be the differentiating factor in choosing a particular residence.
This concept of “designer as brand” becomes particularly important when it comes to new construction as we’ve seen many global luxury brands known for designer goods move into the real estate space, such Fendi and their home brand Fendi Casa become the Fendi Residences in Miami, Florida or Armani’s well-known foray into home also in Miami and of course with the Armani Residences but perhaps most famously in the Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Recently Pininfarina, the design firm famed for its Ferrari designs, completed its first residential tower in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Many of the condominium projects in New York City boast designer interiors from some of the world’s most recognizable names.
A shared aesthetic
Because of the visual nature of the internet, through news outlets and social media, people have a sense of who a designer is on a visual level. They don’t just recognize the name; they have an image of what that person’s style represents and when that style is tied to a residence, it provides an instant way for buyers to “borrow” that style as their own. The name of the designer, as with luxury brands, conveys prestige. However, as we’ve seen with luxury brands in general, it isn’t enough to have a label or a name anymore. Part of the pleasure of the design is the story. For designers, this can be multi-faceted. It can be about the story of the design and their personal journey and influences as well as about the story of the pieces they select. For the purchaser, these details become woven into the story of the home that they tell, and retell it, to their friends and guests.
An understanding of a designer’s aesthetic also gives the home buyer confidence in investing in a new property. This is especially crucial when a buyer is buying before anything has been built. The brands of appliances and fixtures and the names of designers and architects involved in the experience all help provide peace of mind that the project will not just turn out like the renderings but will also embody the spirit of the designers involved. This feeling has a true monetary value not just for the original purchaser but also on the resale market. The work also may become part of the designer’s canon and be known to the world through their public portfolio. In that way, a designer’s work becomes like a work of art and holds the promise of value appreciation.
The appeal of curation
Today’s buyer wants something that is both distinctive and a sure thing. The lure of a designer residence can also be that it is turnkey, particularly for investors or those looking for a second home. Choosing furniture and designing a property is time-consuming and labor-intensive work. For the career-driven professional, buying a designer property can be a short-cut to having a home they can be proud of, without having to pull time away from work. In our choice-saturated world, it can be preferable to know that a designer will sort through thousands of available options. Luxury buyers also don’t want to purchase something that is as generic as a showroom because to this consumer, individuality is crucial as a home expresses key details about the owner. For example, art can reflect cultural tastes, eco-friendly details such as living walls and use of natural materials can showcase concern for the environment and a desire to live in harmony with the world. These types of visual cues are easily understood by visitors.
Ultimately, there is an elegant luxury in having expert narrow down choices. The buyer of today’s designer homes gets the pleasure of making a few key decisions, and the feeling of being in control, without being overwhelmed by details.
This automatic curation for the affluent consumer can be seen in many industries and businesses today. For example, in the apparel world, we see a proliferation of curated box offerings from stylists. These services offer conveniences as well as the assurance that the client will be dressed well but also have an individual and distinctive style. The popularity of meal preparation kits reflects a similar drive to have the experience of creation without all the labor of starting from scratch. In fact, one today can even have a curation of gifts and goodies for their pets delivered monthly right to their doorstep. A great way to stay on top of the latest trends, without all the labor of research, shopping, and self-curation.
Will this trend last? Only time will tell. One thing is for sure, design is a changing field. What was popular ten years ago may not be as popular today. Simply look at the once-ubiquitous trend of granite countertops, which today seem trendy and dated. Working with a designer or buying a designer-branded residence provides some assurances that the look of the home will include professional taste and will outlast trends.
Stephanie Anton is the President of Luxury Portfolio International®. She has been with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World since 2005 and is responsible for overseeing day-to- day operations of the companies’ high-end marketing division, Luxury Portfolio International®. Stephanie frequently speaks to audiences around the world about the luxury industry, real estate marketing, and research and insights into the affluent consumer. She has been named to the Inman 101 list of innovative leaders driving industry change, the Swanepoel Power 200 list of most influential real estate professionals and Luxury Daily’s Luxury Women to Watch. She also sits on the Board of Managers for the real estate industry initiative, Upstream.