Curation is the fuel of the modern aspiration economy
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There’s a bookstore in Ginza that sells only one book. “A single room with a single book” is its tagline. Every week, the owner chooses the book, presents it in the center of the shop, and curates an exhibition with artworks, photographs, or related items around its subject matter. Entering his bookstore is like entering a book.
In a less extreme scenario in the West, indie bookstores are thriving. The keyword is curation: by default, independent bookstores are local and community-oriented, and they get to know the taste of their regulars and the mood of the neighborhood.
Getting the taste and the mood makes indie bookstores a good model for the modern aspiration economy. Modern aspiration is not about having money to buy things, but having taste to know what to buy. That’s where human curation comes in, and why it’s increasingly considered both a differentiator in fashion, food, travel, wellness, design, and an important value-add for tech platforms from Spotify to Netflix and HBO to Facebook and Apple.
Tsundoku is a Japanese word for the uncomfortable feeling of having too many books to read. It’s also the MO of contemporary life. There are more than 75 startups looking to improve and streamline pet care. Industries as diverse as bedding, cookware, mattresses, makeup, fertility, apparel, dentistry, personal care, etc. are all overflowing with options.
In this context, knowledge and judgement and taste are valuable. We trust curators because we believe that they spent time and effort in developing their expertise. This belief seeped from the art world into the aspirational economy, with the new breed of aspirants looking to share their taste and turn their social and cultural capital into the economic one.
With a good reason, too: being a coveted curator of a cultural niche (e.g. menswear, streetwear, luxury fashion, design, food or travel) conveys one’s distinction and social standing based on more than posing on a cobblestone street in a selected outfit. It takes taste and knowledge to pick stuff up at Frieze in LA, Salone di Mobile in…