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The emotional quotient behind the making of things

Everything you buy has a certain emotional investment in it. From an expensive Swiss watch to a sandwich in a supermarket

I write to you this week from the charming, sunny environs of Basel. I have come here to this city of excellent sausages, superb museums and delightful trams to attend yet another edition of the BaselWorld watch and jewellery fair. You might even call it something of an annual pilgrimage. Wristwatches are the closest I come to objects of devout adoration. And the exhibition centre in Basel is my Santiago de Compostela.

But, as I seem to emphasize every year in these pages, BaselWorld is always more than just about watches and luxury and extravagant spending. There are many other insights and ideas to be had here from the numerous meetings and product presentations that one attends.

For instance, I am told that blue is still a very cool colour, but also that the next big colour is yellow. (Calvin Klein is tapping into both trends to make some very nice watches.) So keep that in mind when you buy your next trousers or iPhone or whatnot.

But Basel can also often draw me into wonderful conversations and discussions on the creative energies, emotional investments and manifold cultures that go into making things. Last week, I had a long, intense conversation about creativity and commerce with Pierre-Alexis Dumas. Dumas is artistic director of Hermès and the great-great-great grandson of the founder of the brand.

I will save the pith of this conversation for the forthcoming BaselWorld special issue of this magazine. But I want to point out something Dumas said that I thought was particularly poignant. That everything you buy has a certain emotional investment in it. From an expensive Swiss watch to a sandwich in a supermarket. Of course, this investment varies in quantity and quality. But it is inevitable. Somebody, somewhere cares a little bit about what you hold in your hands.

Dumas told me that as an artistic director of a company that makes such a wide range of products, one of his jobs is to direct this emotional investment. To tell his people when to keep pushing and when to stop. Push too much, he said, and you overcook something. Push too little and you make something that will satisfy neither the maker nor the buyer.

Yes, yes, these are intense thoughts on which to open an issue of Indulge. But perhaps as you flip these pages and look at all the things in it, I hope you will ponder over this. Perhaps this will even help you buy things in a more…emotionally satisfying way.

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