Ah, sweet luxury. It’s different this year—more precious because every purchase in this fragile economy is so carefully considered. We want authentic luxury now: products that stand the test of time, and experiences that promise to nourish us for a lifetime. The Platinum 2009 edition of Sarasota Magazine celebrates this renaissance of "considerate consumption."
Coincidentally, as we were pondering how to personify the new face of luxury, I was introduced to Eames Demetrios, grandson of 20th-century design legends Charles and Ray Eames. The guest of Michael Bush of Home Resource, Demetrios met privately in July with local interior designers and architects and spoke publicly at the Asolo Theatre about the Eames design legacy. As I interviewed him, I was struck by the sheer luxury of this experience for me, a lifelong student of product design and lifestyle trends.
"My grandfather said that after the age of information we will move to the age of choices, and that’s a great expression of where we are today," Demetrios maintains. The age of choices, of course, challenges us to make informed choices, and that’s exactly what we are seeing in the luxury market. Consumers are clamoring for evidence of comfort, sustainability and handmade craftsmanship in the products they choose to buy. Superseding the impulse to cut corners with knockoffs is the quest for the genuine, whether it’s a hand-hemmed Hermès scarf or an Eames Lounge Chair Wood chair (recognized by Time magazine as The Best Design of the 20th Century).
"Much copied but never bettered," said Time of the Eames chair’s aesthetic integrity, enduring charm and comfort— which are the very attributes that distinguish the designs and products highlighted throughout this Platinum issue.
Authenticity is as much a recurring theme in our upfront shopping pages as it is in "Custom Everything," a roundup of the best bespoke products available in Sarasota, and in "A Wind from Africa," a photo essay that delves into the compelling link between so many Sarasotans and the people, crafts, wildlife and even the wine of this vast but no longer dark continent.
We want to thank Sarasota’s inventive chefs for inspiring our story, "Together at Last," which introduces adventurous new combinations of foods from vanilla ice cream with maple-baked bacon (Beach Bistro) to chilled Kumamoto oysters and Osetra caviar (Derek’s Culinary Casual). Savor their innovative dishes for a new experience you can enjoy without ever having to leave our wonderful city.
Demetrios, the son of Lucia Eames and noted California sculptor Aristides Demetrios, says his role as director of the Eames Office is to communicate, preserve, and defend the authenticity of the beautiful objects his grandparents created. "Their core belief was that the role of the designer was essentially that of a good host, anticipating the needs of the guest—a profoundly human approach," he explains.
Reflecting on the Eames’ philosophy, I realized that the guest/host relationship is why I love to shop in the stores on our Platinum 100 list of luxury retailers.
Memorable shopping anywhere in the world is equal parts luxury merchandise, beguiling displays and an ambiance that delights the senses. But Sarasota’s beautiful boutiques also function as portals to our city as a world-class destination—their wares and hospitality shedding light on the culture and sophistication of residents and tourists alike.