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Read what alumni have to say about Art of Luxury at the Institute.

Juan Martin Gonzalez Villanueva

What advice do you have for students entering the Institute?
Use the library as soon as you arrive. There are so many interesting luxury books that you will not have enough time to read them all by the end of the semester. Also, try to attend every class and go on every field trip. Each class is unique and the field trips give very deep insights about the luxury and art industry.

What role did London play in your education?
London, as an international luxury hub, played a very important role in my education. This city synthesizes the perfect intersection between luxury and art. You will have access to so many exhibitions and opportunities to learn that you will never regret.

Which luxury brand are you finding most inspirational and why?
British luxury was a special discovery for me. I came from Argentina and, in the media, you only hear about French or Italian luxury. I found the unique personality of the British brands very interesting. I am not an expert in fashion, but I can say that, from a brand point of view, Alexander McQueen is a really innovative and exotic brand, based on the unique personality of its founder. The way they communicate the brand with this kind of dark sexiness and exoticism is what transforms its products cultural objects.

What do you think is the key to succeeding in this business?
The luxury business is constantly changing so I think that the key to succeed in the business is to stay informed of the latest developments in the industry. At the beginning of your career it can be disappointing and difficult to find a job, but if you are curious and passionate about this niche market you will find your way in the business. Also, an entrepreneurial mindset is crucial, as this business is about creating and sharing your own utopia. Never give up, be creative, work hard, and the rest will come.

Fabiola Smorto

What advice do you have for students entering the Institute?
Sotheby's Institute of Art is a spectacular place where ambitious students will certainly find what they are looking for. The faculty come from all over the world to share their knowledge with you. Plenty of events are organized during the program that make it possible to exchange ideas, not only with other students, but also with professionals of the highest level.

In addition to this, there are many advantages of studying here, from the important collection of books to consulting services. So, in a few words, my advice is to take advantage of all the Institute has to offer from day one, as the time here passes by very fast!

What role did London play in your education?
London played and is still playing an important role in my education. London is such an artistic and vibrant city, offering a wide range of opportunities to shape your own path. For example, the Art of Luxury course is a niche course and I am glad I had the opportunity to take it. It gave me a new and interesting way to look at the art/luxury industry, enriching my knowledge, and opening my mind to new ideas I wasn’t considering before, such as the intersection between art and other fields, from fashion to technology.

Which luxury brand are you finding most inspirational and why?
Right now, I'd probably say Bang and Olufsen. I studied this brand as one of the case studies for the Art of Luxury course. I am truly fascinated by their ability to combine design and technology, without losing sight of the crucial element of sound. Their products look like beautiful sculptures and avant-garde tech products at the same time.

What do you think is the key to succeeding in this business?
I think that in order to succeed in this industry you have to really want to work in it. It is quite a simple answer and can be applied to other industries as well. But when we specifically talk about the art industry, you have to be deeply in love with it, not simply fascinated by it. Staying deeply connected with the art/luxury world, you can have a good understanding of the market and its ever-growing development. This knowledge can help you create your own role and play your part.

Elena del Castillo

What was your first professional experience related to art and luxury?
I have been working in retail for luxury brands for a while since I was a full-time student. Yet my first contact with the luxury business was working as an event assistant for a jewellery brand, MdeU Design, while I was studying at Sotheby's Institute. The Institute gave me the opportunity to get in contact with that first brand and has widen my professional opportunities. For instance, at present, I am doing an internship in digital marketing and e-commerce at Amanda Wakeley, where I am putting into practice the tools that I have acquired at Sotheby's Institute.

What is your favourite part about working in the art and luxury industry.
I consider the sociological aspects of this industry fascinating. The way people perceive art and luxury and how luxury brands and art itself use each other as a strategy to elevate themselves. The boundary between art and luxury is becoming more and more blurred nowadays and I love to study it from a marketing perspective and the consumer behaviour. Also, it is really important for me to work for industries where I can fully stand by the product because of its high quality and the craftmanship and heritage behind them.

With which luxury brand do you most identify?
Due to my gemological background, I feel strongly inclined to jewellery brands. Some of those with which I feel more identified are brands such as Cartier and Bulgari because of their distinctive brand values. These brands build on excellent quality and a great heritage and history to create pieces where elegance goes in pair with discretion. I admire how they keep the brand DNA after so many years whilst still being relevant and keeping up with tendencies and reaching new markets.

What was the first art or luxury experience to have an impact on you?
A visit made with Sotheby's to Fortnum and Mason had a great impact on me. It made me realise the importance of the brand experience and how it is becoming more and more essential for luxury brands. What really amazed me is how they offer extremely different services, from delicatessen to high street clothes, and all of them converge without losing the characteristic luxury essence of the brand. Also, the way they keep their heritage but making an approach to international customers such as in the tea experience; the influence of art in the stores and how they take care of the detail so meticulously in every stage, from production to customer service.

What advice do you have for students entering the Institute?
I advise them to enjoy this experience and take all the opportunities. They will have in situ visits in London during the semester and the opportunity to learn from professionals with a long and relevant experience in the luxury sector. I advise them to give their best because although it will be intense it will make them think as professionals and develop themselves. Personally, this program gave me a professional perspective of the luxury industry and helped me find out and reinforce my professional skills. Definitely, the Institute propelled my professional career.

What role did London play in your education?
London is one of the most cosmopolitan cities worldwide and therefore, definitely a place to study art and luxury. London is a city full of opportunities that have helped me develop my professional career but also build relationships and be adaptable to different situations presented in a multicultural environment.

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