Designer Alessandro Munge weighs in on top luxury features according to study of world’s most affluent households
"Clients don’t come to me because of what’s been done. They come to me because of what they don’t know is out there..."
The world’s most affluent homeowners may be looking for great internet connection, quiet spaces for family members, chef’s kitchens, home gyms and home theatres as the top five “luxury must-haves” in their next home purchase, but here in the GTA, the concept of luxury is less about physical attributes and more about the experience a home delivers.
“Clients don’t come to me because of what’s been done. They come to me because of what they don’t know is out there,” says Italian designer Alessandro Munge, founder and principal of Studio Munge, who believes true luxury lies in discovering that one characteristic of a home that can’t be readily replicated, regardless of the cost.
To Munge, the recent study by Luxury Portfolio International — which lists top home features reported by more than 3,000 affluent worldwide buyers — reads more like a standard features list. In addition to the top five mentioned, homeowners participating in the survey also cited outdoor living area, home office, playroom, wine cellar, games room, on-property guest house, dual-key residence and rooms for live-in help, all of which sound lavish but none of which surprise Munge.
“It’s almost like saying, ‘I crave a glass of water every day.’ It’s standard,” said Munge. “If a client said, ‘We’re thinking the foyer has to be marble,” I’d be yawning. Of course, you’re going to get marble – that’s not even a discussion – but what else?”
"We look for something they can emotionally connect to that is far beyond what their neighbour would have, far beyond what their friends would have, and more importantly, is specific to them."
What the top tier of the luxury market really searches for as a must-have, he stresses, are aspects that represent the next level of design. Rather than consulting a feature list, Munge treats each luxury home project as a blank canvas, looking to push the envelope by designing interiors that deliver an experience you can’t get anywhere else.
It’s an intimate process based on interviews and discussions to ensure the right fit with a client, and when it works, Munge lands on the one or two wow factors that will make a home priceless.
“We look for something they can emotionally connect to that is far beyond what their neighbour would have, far beyond what their friends would have, and more importantly, is specific to them,” said Munge. “In this market, it’s not about cookie-cutter solutions. It’s a way of life.”
When designing interiors for the luxury condo market, a similar concept applies, but for a wider audience. A tagline for Glenhill Condominiums by Lanterra, a limited collection of lavish residences at Bathurst and Glencairn with interiors by Studio Munge, reads “a special place defined by its people.”
For Munge, that means predicting who is likely to buy there and designing public amenities that connect to them, such as personal fitness pods or the small boutique hotel for guests. In fact, you could say the very act of trying to compile a top list of luxury home features somehow lessens the luxury.
“It’s about creating parts of the home that say, ‘You can’t experience this unless you’re here.’ That’s the power and it has nothing to do with the cost of stone (or other materials),” says Munge. “… There’s nothing more you can put on the table that luxury homeowners haven’t already experienced, except more experiences.”
Read the article by Dianne Daniel in Toronto Sun.