Innovation and Perspective | Summer Readings

ph: Federica Carlotto

In business (and in life), innovation does not “suddenly happen.” Rather, it stems from a change in perspective. One day we look reality with different eyes and we spot pockets for amendments and improvements. In the midst of a stagnant situation, unexpected avenues open up in front of us.

Changing perspective is an ability that we constantly need to train and nourish.

This summer I am creating original content for the new MA in Luxury Business at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. These are the readings helping me push the boundaries of the way I look at art and luxury (and beyond that):

  1. Anthro-vision by Gillian Tett. A great overview on how lateral thinking can foster intelligent innovation in business. Before getting cloistered in spreadsheets and mathematical models, economic matters are first and foremost  tangibly intertwined with people’s life. (In addition, I was glad to see Tett shares the same understanding of anthropology as salt: “Just as adding salt to food binds the ingredients and enhances flavor, adding anthropological ideas to disciplines such economics, data science, law, or medicine creates a deeper, richer analysis.”)
  2. Enrichment: A Critique of Commodities by Luc Boltanski & Arnaud Esquerre. The compelling analysis of culture, heritage creation and place branding as the new frontiers of value production in many European countries. After the “economies of scale and costs,” art, luxury, tourism are now all being enriched to serve the quest for sophisticated objects and meaningful  experiences. Challenging the common view of art and culture as detached from the world of commodities, the authors denounce “the impossibility of closing one’s eyes to the role played by artistic and cultural activities, especially in the domains of luxury and tourism, whose contribution to the prosperity of capitalism is hardly negligible.”
  3. Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord. A classic in the critique of capitalism and its evolution through the flow of products and images. “Since the specactle’s job is to use various specialised mediations in order to show us a world that can no longer be directly grasped, it naturally elevates the sense of sight to the special pre-eminence once occupied by touch: the most abstract and easily deceived sense is the most readily adaptable to the generalized abstraction of present-day society.” In the age of selfies and VR, this is still good food for thought.