For several months, FENDI‘s Palazzo della Civilita Italiana has been hosting an exhibition of works by the Italian artist Giuseppe Penone. But the Palazzo is not a gallery. Since 2015, it has been the headquarters of Fendi, the fashion brand. Fendi chief executive Pietro Beccari says artists must be free to work “without interference. Once you make the choice to choose one artist rather than the other, you have to go for it, otherwise you lose authenticity.”It is therefore vital, he adds, for companies to choose carefully artists who are “close to your sensibility” and the values of the brand.
Audemars Piguet has backed a series of artists over recent years and runs the annual Audemars Piguet Art Commission which includes a major annual commission each year
LVMH opened the Frank Gehry-designed Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris in 2014. LVMH says the move “epitomises the support for art, culture and heritage [the group] has been providing for nearly 25 years”.
The Rolls-Royce Art Programme, which has been running for several years, includes a series of events as well as commissions of new works. Artists who have participated include Yang Fudong, Jose Parla, Sudarshan Shetty, Angela Bulloch and Isaac Julien. “In this kind of segment you are not selling metal, you are selling dreams,” says Torsten Muller-Otvos, chief executive officer of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
Peter York, who has been an adviser to many luxury enterprises, says that businesses in this sector have little choice but to follow, in some form or another, the approach being taken by Fendi, Rolls-Royce and others. He says: “The more that your brand is sold in luxury malls in China, the more concerned you are to reassure people who care about these things that you’re ‘the real thing’, that you’re associated with higher-level endeavours.”
But there are dangers, Mr York warns. Entering into collaborations with artists, or backing other cultural ventures, must be approached with the same care and thought as that applied to a new product or range. Be seen to be trying too hard, adds Mr York, and brands risk being seen as insecure, particularly by sophisticated customers.
adapted from BBC
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