By  on April 23, 2009

“What can we do for you?” It’s the luxury sector’s big question, one that executives from six top-tier brands — Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Luxottica, Lalique, Cartier and Hermès — posed to students in “The Design and Marketing of Luxury Goods,” an interdisciplinary course sponsored by the Luxury Education Foundation and co-taught by professors from Columbia Business School and Parsons The New School for Design. Students presented their answers Tuesday night at Columbia’s Uris Hall.

Now in its 14th year, the focus of the class, in which students from both schools team up to tackle a particular company’s project, has shifted from product design to service innovation, a clear reflection of the times. Whereas in the past the challenge was to relaunch a classic shoe or develop products geared toward a younger audience, this semester’s mandate was all about personalization and experience. “People realize that it’s important to make the consumer experience the best possible,” said Ketty Maisonrouge, adjunct professor of marketing at CBS and president of LEF. “Now [the executives] said, ‘Don’t redesign; find an angle.’”

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