Nature is the New Luxury
Luxury is often associated with material goods such as cars, jewelry and fine art, but the luxury of nature can be far more extraordinary. This isn’t a new idea. Our appreciation for nature tends to go in cycles, just as trends in the luxury goods market change season to season. Even before the pandemic lockdown, I noticed rising consumer demand for the luxuries provided by nature. Now it’s overwhelming. Privacy, serenity, and ownership of land are at a premium. But as a resurgent embrace of nature continues to drive up demand, we need to be conscious of our consumption, balancing this with awareness of nature as a limited and essential resource, threatened by the consumptive appetite of mankind.
We tend to seek out luxury goods when we’re looking for a change or attempting to reimagine ourselves. We do the same with nature. When we need an escape or a break from the routine, where do we go? To the beach, the woods, the mountains. The Transcendentalists philosophized about this transformative power of nature. “In the woods, we return to reason and faith. There I feel that nothing can befall me in life… which nature cannot repair,” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s more than just philosophy too. There are many studies that show how being in nature, even for short amounts of time, can have a positive impact on both our mental and physical health. Surrounding yourself with nature can be an indulgent act of self-care. It’s no wonder so many people fled the cities for private land during the pandemic lockdown.
Beyond the quick getaway, nature offers a different way of life. Away from the city, the pace of life slows down and luxury takes on a new meaning. At Hudson Woods, a development project I led in the Catskills region of New York, the homes aren’t overly grand in scale but still, they exude luxury. Each home is carefully integrated into the natural landscape. The selective site placements provide homeowners a special sort of exclusivity, ownership of their own little corner of the world. Locally sourced natural materials, including wood and stone, made high-quality finishes for the interiors. These natural elements, and the intentional choices made to uphold a high standard of craftsmanship and sustainability throughout the construction process, are what elevated the simple design of the homes.
While we indulge in the luxuries of nature it’s important to remember that like highly valued luxury goods, nature is scarce. As we look to the natural world to provide us with materials and space to build out our fantasies, we need to do so sustainably and with restraint. By communing with nature responsibly, we can help to ensure that it will continue to provide the luxuries we seek, not just for a season, but for generations to come.