It was a fitting close to DLD Moscow. As Russia, one of the world’s great industrial nations, modernises its economy for a digital future, Lapo Elkann, designer and creative entrepreneur, declared the age of mass production over. The future will be all about customisation. “Brands should impose less and propose more,” he said.
In a free-wheeling conversation with Aliona Doletskaya, the editor-in-chief of Interview magazine in Russia and Germany, Elkann said that the product world can be divided into three categories.
The first is democratic customisation. This means offering consumers the ability to personalise the products they are buying, whether it be shoes, bikes or cars. At the same time, simplicity is key. If you offer too many options, you risk confusing the customer and making life difficult for yourself. “Good design is all about making complex things simple,” Elkann said, citing Apple as an example of a company that understands this design precept.
The second category is sartorial. This is a step up from democratic customisation. The customer is more closely involved in shaping the outcome of the product.
The final category is bespoke, where you take an existing design but tailor it completely around the needs and tastes of the customer.
Beyond that is a unique edition. But this does not fit in Elkann’s matrix of three product categories because it goes beyond style and into design, which can often require years of research.
The three + one categories reflect Elkann’s approach to life itself: “I like to travel economy, business, first and private,” he said. “The beauty of life is being comfortable in every environment.”