Future Luxury

Understanding the Future of Consumer Luxury through Design and Art Representations

The Future Luxury project is an inspirational and explorative investigation on transient matters of taste, technology, consumption, cultural values and experiences. The first project developed by the Hyundai-Kia Innovation Lab, brought together researchers from the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre (IMDC), tutors from the Intelligent Mobility Master of Arts (IMMA) programme, and students and graduates from cross-disciplinary backgrounds at the Royal College of Art.

The theme of Future Luxury was chosen to allow us as vehicle designers and mobility researchers to better understand how future consumers will view and digest luxury products such as vehicles, garments and digital devices, and foresee future trends. Social and cultural dimensions significantly influence public views about what is luxury and how luxury will change over time. The research helps define how luxury could be consumed in the future and explores what factors could influence emerging aspects of the luxury market. The core aim of the project was to gather views and opinions from these different design disciplines, and combine them to generate a series of narratives forecasting areas of luxury. Designers with backgrounds in Architecture, Vehicle Design, Textiles, Industrial Product Design, Design Engineering, Sculpture, UX design and Service Design were selected to work on the project. They produced conceptual art and design works investigating trends and aesthetic experiences.

The project has two strands. The Immersive Luxury Project questioned luxury futures critically, gathering responses and opinions from different design disciplines. The Flagship Project explored the future of luxury vehicles and investigated future trends in luxury.

The Immersive Luxury Project gathered students and graduates from six design disciplines at the Royal College of Art to create design provocations that illustrate their future visions of luxury. A report and a series of exhibition pieces were generated across a wide range of topics including digital identity, emotion controlling materials, sensory manipulation, human to machine integration and shifting values based on social, climatic and economic trends. Each piece of work provides a compelling provocation into the way luxury may be consumed. Together with the research, they paint a picture of how consumers needs will change and how the luxury market will need to evolve.  

The Flagship Project was delivered by Vehicle Design MA students. The project was intended to enable students to challenge and establish new ways of thinking about future automotive luxury, and aimed to provoke a specific high level vehicle design solution. The brief challenged students to create a new Automotive or Mobility Flagship luxury solution for 2030, defining the meaning of luxury in 2030 and defining its application to an existing automotive brand. Specific focus was directed towards anticipating an immersive luxury experience for both driver and passenger, whilst considering associated elements such as the ownership model, the technology, and the manufacturing method and process.

Methods used included field research, subject definition, future mapping and collaboration between different disciplines and cultural backgrounds. Concepts were produced as objects, services and sensory experiences to help demonstrate how luxury might be consumed by future users and delivered in automotive and non-automotive contexts.

Key learnings point to a future luxury customer that places as much importance on their digital self as they do in the real world. The ability to have continuous and seamless connections between an individual and the digital world will be increasingly mandatory, with the luxury element being defined by how that experience in managed and delivered. This shift will affect the needs and aspirations of users who will demand more from new experiences and sensations. This shifting demand will open new areas of the luxury market that support this integrated life, with tailored emotions and senses that can be delivered directly to the consumer.


For more information please see the IMDC Future Luxury Report.

Research Team

Prof Dale Harrow

Dan Quinlan

Sam Johnson

Sabina Weiss

Kate Webster

Samantha Yang

Jonathan Stoker

Joungmin Yoo

I-liang Cheng

Amy Rose Collins

Bilaal Saheed


Research Partners

Hyundai Kia