From the earliest times, “the Orient” has been identified with sensuality, luxury and decadence. Learn about the sensory pleasures of the trade in luxury goods in Imperial Rome.
In the medieval period, visitors to Constantinople were stunned by its opulence. But its fortunes were built less on its own trading activities than on its skill in exploiting its location to direct, organize and profit from the trade that was carried on by others. The story is uncovered by Jonathan Harris in ‘Two thirds of the wealth of this world’.
We think of ‘designer water’ as a twenty-first-century invention but in Early Modern Europe some waters were considered so special that they carried a luxury price tag. David Gentilcore relates how named mineral waters became fashionable luxuries alongside ice, wine, chocolate and coffee.
In eighteenth-century Europe, rising social mobility and the expansion of world trade meant that items previously considered the preserve of the super-rich became accessible to those with more modest incomes. Discover how the increasing affordability of luxury attire, such as wigs, came into conflict with the sumptuary laws of the period.
For Dieter Kienast, reflecting on the increased density of urban living, “the garden is the last luxury of our time because it claims what has become rare and valuable in our society: time, devotion and space.” Explore the development of landscape architecture over the twentieth century.