The Art of Luxury Living. A series of articles brought to you by AIRA Residence.
If there’s one thing the pandemic taught us, luxury isn’t always what they seem. For a time, flashy cars and in-your-face jewellery were de rigueur, but as we emerge from isolation with fresh perspectives, extravagance has taken on a whole new form.
Call it the next stage of urban nesting. Having spent more time at home than ever before, communities improved their immediate surroundings, from bathroom remodelling to entire renovations. And amid all this transformation, homeowners discovered they weren’t just skilled decorators–they were curators, too.
As it turns out, homes have become living exhibitions on their own. Think walls lined with seminal art pieces or even sculptures that double up as an ottoman and a conversation starter. After all, personal galleries were the OG Instagram, and self-portraits (yes, the same ones housed in mansions and estates) the OG #selfie.
Nevertheless, this isn’t to say that art is purely intended for flexing. For example, in a 2010 study of 1,500 participants, cultural experiences such as theatre, concerts, and gallery/museum visits were the second most important determinant of psychological well-being. Additionally, researchers at the University College of London, led by neurobiologist Professor Semir Zeki, found that viewing art triggered the release of dopamine, the “happy chemical”. This particular experiment–which involved brain scanning of volunteers as they viewed pieces of art–concluded that the reaction was almost immediate, in that “when looking at things we consider beautiful, activity in the pleasure/reward brain centre is increased.”
These findings could explain why people, by nature, are inherently collectors, especially in times of crisis. Though some are drawn to items with nostalgic value, others gravitate towards pieces that elicit an emotional response. Take, for example, fragrances that transport their wearer to a distant memory or timepieces that evoke a sense of curiosity and wonder. The same could also be said for the works of American painter Mark Rothko, who once declared, “I’m only interested in expressing the basic human emotions–tragedy, ecstasy, despair. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate these basic human emotions.”
More Than A Pretty Picture
It’s also why certain paintings could fetch up more than you’d expect. In the secondary art market, factors such as rarity, provenance, and even how an art piece captures a zeitgeist play a significant role in its value. An excellent example is Malaysian artist Abdul Latiff’s Growth I, 1968, which set a world auction record for selling at £245,000 at the MODERN MADE auction in London. Those in the know would recognise the piece as part of the artist’s highly elusive yet acclaimed ‘Pago Pago’ series, which grew to prominence for its modernist Southeast Asian narrative. Depicting a developing Malaysia amid Western influences, the series was considered ahead of its time–especially among a rising global South–and struck a chord with many collectors who shared the same values.
In that regard, value is undoubtedly what drives demand, and for prospective investors, art is considered a “neutral currency”. Moreover, given that the art market is independent of the stock market, prices for artworks remain relatively stable, even during financially rocky periods. For example, a report by CitiBank revealed that in the first seven months of the global pandemic, art outperformed ten major asset classes, including hedge funds and real estate, with contemporary art achieving the highest gains.
It’s worth noting that although no investment is without risks, the art market’s resilience over the past few years has given way to a “new frontier”. Together with renewed interest in home decorating, an explosion in digital sales and ultra-high-net-worth wealth creation, art has never been more than “just a pretty picture” than now.
A Blank Canvas
So how, then, should you start curating your own living gallery? As an extension of your personality, choosing a suitable canvas for your collection is most important. And where better to begin this journey than at AIRA Residence, where modern luxury meets creativity. Nestled on the hilltop of Jalan Batai in Damansara Heights, this luxury development has units with floor space up to over 7,000 square feet, creating large spaces with high ceilings and wide walkways. Add to this to natural light coming in from at least two sides and you have the perfect home for your collection.
#1: Set the tone
As a starting point, entryways and corridors create a gallery-like experience for any guest, setting the mood for what’s to come (think of it as a trailer to a show-stopping living room, perhaps). The expansive hallways at the Piet Boon-designed units in Tower A of AIRA Residence provide just that, as homeowners and guests can immerse themselves in a series of triptychs or vignettes before stepping into a larger-than-life living room. Here, an unobstructed billion-dollar view of Kuala Lumpur’s skyline creates the most spectacular mise-en-scène, exalting any sculpture, statement or conversation piece.
#2 Get Personal
So if living rooms are the heart of a home, then bedrooms are its soul. After all, a bedroom is a personal sanctuary, and there are certainly more rooms to play with at AIRA Residence to fit any collector’s fancy. With four plus one bedroom each at both its Type A1, A2 and B units, collectors can express their personalities in a myriad of ways–think playful pieces (like a Kide Baharudin, dare we suggest?) for a child’s room or bold and dramatic artworks for a home office.
#3: Frame and fortune
Framing is essential to a successful collection, and any aspiring or seasoned connoisseur would do well to look for calming palettes that invite a sense of harmony into their living galleries (think: Tate Britain). It’s the reason why timber and marble flooring and toxic-free organic paint have been chosen for units at AIRA Residence. Often overlooked, subtle elements such as these set a great gallery apart–bringing focus to art pieces while evoking a sense of calm in visitors. Just like how one would at home.
Ultimately, art pieces are more than just decorative showpieces—they’re visual commentaries of different perspectives, identities and interests. At AIRA Residence, every corner and sweeping walls await a story to be told. And if home is where the art is, how will you tell yours?
AIRA Residence is Selangor Properties’ exemplar of ultra luxury living. This low density fully completed development is situated at the hilltop of Jalan Batai in the middle of Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur’s premier neighbourhood. Designed by an international award-winning team, AIRA Residence combines style, luxury with comfort and privacy and offers spectacular views of the Kuala Lumpur City Centre skyline. Find out more about AIRA Residence and the remaining units for sale here.