The highest form of brand experience now goes way beyond carrying it as a purse, driving it, or wearing it — the ultimate sensation is living in it.
In recent years we’ve seen brands, mostly fashion houses, manifest their creative prowess in diverse product lines: from furniture and home accessories to mobile phones, writing instruments, even automobiles.
Several couture labels have also launched price-accessible lines, either through a derivative brand or by collaborating with retail stores. It is an apparent move to stay relevant to a market that has become complex, diverse and competitive, layered with unique behaviours set off by a new cast of characters: the aspiration of the middle class and consumers in emerging economies.
Luxury authorities also cite that certain brands are “recasting” their elements to update, customize or further amplify the consumer’s brand experience and elevate it to unique stratospheric levels. The best examples are fashion houses interior designing hotel properties: Armani in Dubai, Bulgari in London, Moschino in Milan and Versace in Australia.
The list covers more brands and fashion icons that lure luxury seekers into their spatial creations of hotels and resorts that are bathed in their brand aesthetic.
In Manila, the branded space takes the form of residences — a more permanent experience that a consumer will ever have with a brand.
The leader in this new category of signature homes in the Philippines, Century Properties Group Inc., launched in 2010 the Milano Residences interior designed by Versace Home, and in 2011, though not by a designer but just as illustrious, the Trump Tower Manila.
In March, Century revealed the newest addition to its branded residences. It is to be the fourth building in the highly successful Acqua Private Residences project, located in the Philippine capital. Called the Acqua Livingstone tower, it is the first and only residential project in the world interior designed by the global Italian brand, MissoniHome.
“People ask us why we have these brand collaborations, and we always emphasize the benefits of quality, superior standards and the rich brand experience that are exclusive to living in a branded residence,” points out Marco Antonio, Century’s co-chief operating officer, managing director and Acqua project head. “For us the endorsement comes secondary. What we’re after is the collaboration that will ultimately redound to a tangible consumer benefit.”
Judging by the successful sales of the Milano and Trump projects in Manila (at 80 and 70 percent, respectively), there appears to be a following for branded homes among Filipinos and fellow Asians. In the Philippines alone, the booming population, robust economy and increasing consumer affluence are considered the catalysts to the growth of the aspiration of the middle class market. And such occurrence has been driving the entry of big-name retail, fashion and consumer brands in the country.
“At the end of the day a real estate purchase is about the aspiration,” adds Antonio. “Branded residences make a lot of sense for those who want a unique space and appreciate the label’s distinctive spirit and lifestyle. They are familiar with the quality that comes with the brand and this quality is what we distil into these signature spaces. Now the benefit is deeper and more emotional for the consumer, because they can choose to have this never-before-experienced bond with their favourite brand.”
Robbie Antonio, who heads Century’s international brand collaborations, explains: “The branded home also gives pride of ownership to the resident. For most Asians one’s home is a lifelong investment, a testament to one’s success and achievements. The home, the address, defines the person.”
Marco Antonio is confident of the outcome of Century’s new MissoniHome-designed project. For one, it is anchored on the success of a fast-selling development. Sales for the first three towers of Acqua Private Residences reached 96 percent out of a total of 1,800 units within an unprecedented 12 months. Now that the branded tower has been announced, Antonio said the property has become even more desirable.
Units at Acqua Livingstone are priced 20 percent higher than those in the first three towers, with an average price of P145,000 per square meter. With this a buyer gets options for unit interior finishes chosen by the brand and a multi-level sky deck of exclusive amenities within the building, fully decked in MissoniHome beauty called The Canopy. There is also a choice of availing, for an additional fee, a complete interior design package for one’s unit that includes the brand’s furniture and home accents.
Missoni, the principal luxury label, is one of the pioneers of forward-thinking fashion brands that have branched out to houseware, furniture and interior design. Like Armani and Versace, it has designed hotels and is now pushing the envelope further by lending its creative influence to a designer residence.
Founded in 1953 as a knitwear label in Italy by Ottavio and Rosita Missoni, it grew into a fashion empire run by three generations of the Missoni family. Globally recognized for its creative use of patterns and colorful prints, Missoni earned the acclaim of the fashion world throughout the decades for elevating knitwear to an artistic form, and for its inventiveness and consistently progressive style.
Edoardo Roda, general manager of T&J Vestor, makers of MissoniHome products, said: “Missoni is very visible, it makes a strong statement; it’s a style. To decorate something highly visible and strong as what we have done here in Acqua Livingstone is something that we are truly proud of.”
Added Vittorio Missoni, Missoni managing director: “I believe that life is more fun with colours. So I hope you will enjoy and have a fun in seeing what we have done.”
Missoni’s success perhaps lies in its enduring ability to maintain its brand essence throughout its 59-year history. The core values of passion, creativity, quality and authenticity remain intact and observed down to the family’s youngest generation. In 1994, Rosita relinquished the fashion brand’s reins to her daughter Angela and took over the creative direction of Missoni Home, which to this day she feels very passionately about. Rosita Missoni’s move ensured — while recasting the brand to houseware and recently, to residential space — that nothing will get lost in translation.