Before Covid-19 entered our lives, offering friends a lift home after a catch-up and spending weekends with my family were second nature to me. I’ve always treasured these times for their irreplaceable memories.
When we launched our hospitality brand Lloyd’s Inn Bali & The Canopy Spa in November 2018, I had “Time” engraved on a bangle. It encapsulates the intricate layers of curation that go into each project, the dynamics of working in a team, and our internal struggles. Time is what allows us the chance to create unique memories that shape our lives.
This is why I consider time to be the most precious currency. We can amass all the money we want, but we can never buy time – nor trade for it. If time is precious, then time is luxury.
When invited to describe “luxury”, opulence comes to mind. According to the Oxford Dictionary, luxury is “a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”.
This traditional idea of opulence is also popularised by the media. We live in a world with unparalleled access to information against the backdrop of phenomenal technological advancement in the last decade. We see such generalisations of wealth and luxury in movies like The Great Gatsby (depicting the Roaring Twenties in North America) and Crazy Rich Asians.
Perhaps growing up in this rapidly changing environment has conditioned us to accept a standard of luxury defined by what we see.
Fundamentally, luxury goods command a premium because demand outstrips supply. If the labour cost is high, resulting in a more expensive item, that contributes to it being seen as a luxury, too. The premium on a product also increases when supply is reduced, resulting in consumers wanting to get their hands on a perceived luxury item.
But the dynamics are changing. Luxury today isn’t just about the rarity of supply or perceived cost worth. I founded The Ove Collection, a lifestyle brand comprising homes, hospitality and wellness, with an ethos that modern luxury is no longer about what we have, but who we are.
Luxury to me is not about the cost of goods or an over-the-top brand association. It is less about the price tag but more to do with self-identity and expression – and this comes through individual experiences forged in time.
(Related: The Peak Next Gen: Ng Yi-Xian of Etonhouse)
It’s like baking cookies. You could purchase the standard ingredients, follow the recipe to a T and get a good batch of snacks. But what makes a great cookie is the process; the effort one puts into making something unique. It is the willingness to be different – to test new ingredients, refine the baking process, challenge the recipe and perfect a new version.
That involves investing time in a recipe that becomes part of your identity. In the same way, I invest time in coming up with new definitions for Ove’s collection of homes, creating for each an identity that, eventually, is built upon by the homeowner to become part of theirs. In a sense, time trades hands, from mine to theirs.
Outside of work, I find joy in both solitude and togetherness: practising yoga to reflect, experimenting with recipes, and spending time with my husband and loved ones.
I also derive the most joy from travelling. I savour the journey more than the destination: the navigation process, being plugged into my iPod Shuffle as I look out of the window at passing views, observing villages and infrastructure that are evidence of cultures that have strengthened over time, and so much more.
How long will it take for life to go back to normal? Only time will tell.