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Selfridges Flipside exhibition: Exploring the future of luxury

WGSN’s Becky Stevenson recently visited “The Flipside” – Selfridge’s multi-sensory exhibition at The Old Selfridges Hotel to explore their take on the future of luxury.

Entering The Old Selfridges hotel, you’re warmly greeted by staff in boiler suits under white, glowing rings. Walking into the exhibition space, created in partnership with Google Pixel 2, it was clear that this exhibition was something truly unique to the regular Selfridges experience.

Once underground, you begin to experience the part-exhibition, part-performance space. Following a carpeted walkway through various installations created by the likes of Loewe, Gareth Pugh and Thom Browne, all of which explore the overriding theme “what does luxury mean to you?”

The highlight? Award winning barman Mr Lyan, aka Ryan Chetiyawardana’s exhibition. A personalised experience, you’re asked to choose one of three plinths – whichever you’re most drawn to. After choosing, a series of short questions are asked including “what is your spirit animal?”

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After answering, and passing through another mysterious curtain, the bartender created a bespoke cocktail chosen for you based on their assessment.  I was “The Sprite” – a fresh gin cocktail, the my poison of choice. Would I have chosen it in a bar? Absolutely. Mr Lyan had our drink preferences sussed from a few short questions.

The bartender then went on to explain the bar experience of the future. “One day, we will have detailed data all about you, from which we can then create a personalised menu.  We can then divide the menu into a selection of moods, enabling you to simply choose the cocktail for the mood you are in”.

Mr Lyan then discussed the problems around this future yet to be realised, claiming that “Due to the accessibly of your social platforms, brands can already find out so much about you. However, new data regulations will affect how brands can use this information and other data, even if it’s to personalise experiences for you”.

Another interesting installation was that of Byredo: “the notion of luxury, to me, is closely linked to that of scarcity” (Ben Gorham, Founder of and Creative Director of Byredo). Byredo’s space consisted of a wall of plastic water containers, exploring the “radical luxury through a dystopian future, where fresh water will be amongst the most precious things”. This future world, which may not be that far off (the bartender quoted 200 years away), was symbolised by glass Byredo water bottles.

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What does Luxury mean to you? Visit The Flipside exhibition at The Old Selfridges Hotel in London until 20th May 2018.

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