Living a Design-Led Lifestyle

Turning a mindset into real change

From the moment we wake up and hit snooze on our alarms, to the time we turn out the light on our bedside tables, there is something that enfolds us, inspires us and is our constant companion throughout the day.

Most of us wouldn't really stop to think about it, or maybe not in such omnipresent ways, but for many of us that thing is design. Take a look at what's around you right now. Everything around you tells a story. And some things around you have been graced with a particular beauty, touched by the careful design of someone who was deeply passionate about making that thing just so—from the sleek contours and navigation of the phone in your hand, to the stunning lines on the building that you see out of your window or the smooth walnut arms of the chair you are sitting on.

For years I've been observing the power of design and the cultural behavior that I call the "design-led" lifestyle. I've studied how and why certain products catch on, why a certain T-shirt or sneaker commands seemingly endless demand, or why a car or hotel or bottle of wine gives off a particular feeling. I've noticed my own behavior, as well as that of those around me, and how many of us curate the world around us based on a quest for beauty and function. Design-led lifestyle is a lens through which we see the world, a mindset that permeates the way we think and operate. One that values well-produced, practical and aesthetically pleasing things that offer the winning combination of integrity, functionality and desirability.

But it doesn't stop at a passion or a philosophy. I have been keen to act, and turn this mindset into real change. Ten years ago, I founded an online platform, BORN, to connect design-led brands with retailers and bring about a meeting of minds, where they could connect, learn, showcase and celebrate the very best of design lifestyle from around the globe. By developing our own technologies, we are now pushing forward and helping to digitize trade shows, making them fit for the 21st century, and bringing the design-led lifestyle to this sector.

This mindset is a rather "new generation" concept. For many years, the gap between luxury and low-end products was as wide as the Atlantic. The two categories were either expensive and intricately designed or functional and cheap. The "good" products came almost exclusively from luxury brands and often catered narrowly to the European and North American markets. But as the world began changing over the decades, with globalization and growing influence of Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, we started to see the incredible and beautiful influence of different cultures, tastes and needs, along with the great influences of global design to a wide variety of categories.

All the while, design started to come to the masses. The combination of design heritage and culture with the best of technology and digital innovation, as exemplified by the U.S. and a brand like Apple, led to a massive rise in brands that combined accessibility with great design. We saw leading fashion houses see the power of innovative streetwear and more price-accessible home goods brands partner with high-end designers. This openness and curiosity led the gap to be filled with well-made and beautiful, yet still practical products, democratizing what was once luxury and making it more accessible to a far greater proportion of people. Design—and design-led lifestyle—permeated the masses and brought freedom and joy to consumers all around the world.

I have always believed that beauty belongs to everyone. My passion for this comes from a special place, my great-grandmother, who was head seamstress for Christian Dior in Paris in the 1930s. She started off life in a very different place, the fishing town of Granville in Normandy, which also happened to be the birthplace of M. Dior. One day, she set off to walk to Paris from her hometown. When she got there, she sought out her fellow townsman to ask for a job. M. Dior offered her a starting position in helping around the atelier, and she worked for years to rise through the ranks of the company. Her belief in beautiful design, coupled with years of hard work, eventually took her to found her own lingerie boutique and to count among her customers the Queen Mother.

As I grew up with these tales, I learned to respect the craft and intention of making beautiful things. I learned the power and selflessness of perfecting every detail, no matter how seemingly small or inconsequential. My way of expressing this continues with my latest venture, where our company is built upon the foundation of celebrating the world's best products and designers and bringing this design thinking into the digital world.

I urge each of you to start to view the world around you through this lens, and see what action you can take to turn it into tangible change. Ask yourself, why do I choose the things that surround me? What do I love about them? What is their story? Who designed this and why? You're living your own design-led lifestyle, even if you aren't aware of it yet.

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