#CNILux: Lapo Elkann On Embracing Mindfulness
Navigating the luxury world is a conundrum that Lapo Elkann has been faced with for most of his life, and the entrepreneur has some firm opinions on where it stands now – telling the CNI Luxury Conference today that we need to “understand that having a great product is just the beginning, there needs to be more than that”.
“As a creative, I am trying to refocus my objectives on how to deploy the ideas rather than focus on the products – when you are only focused on products you tend to lose the ideas,” the artistic director of Italia Independent Group said. “If you have the humility to understand that contamination can be an asset, you can take from all over the world, and that makes a product in a more intelligent way.”
There are places that are excelling at doing so, said Elkann, and others that need to do more – specifically his native Italy.
“I think that Italy has a lot to offer and a lot of great elements that could be shown and showcased better than what they are,” he said. “I realised this a few years ago, when I was working with Ferrari and we invited all the best schools in the world to create a car of the future – out of 90 countries, the best ones at interpreting the future of the car were three Koreans.”
“Even though I love my country, other people have better ideas,” he continued. “I believe these days to grow, you need to interface yourself with the world. Now with communication, you can speak to anyone in the world. The reality is that I do believe in the process of re-doing, re-shaping or recreating, but it’s no longer necessary to only think about this being Italian. You can have Italy in your heart, but also listen to what others have to say elsewhere.”
This extends to understanding that to be successful in a 360-degree world, the luxury world has to realise that fellow sectors are an essential source to tap.
“I think creativity surpasses many things and not only one,” he explained. “Fashion is a little slice of the cake – there are many more. Fashion needs life, fashion needs style, without those two elements – which can be taken from areas such as art and lifestyle – fashion wouldn’t be as strong as it is.” He also noted that, as an Italian, he sees the world changing as an advantage, as “we have skills that are more valuable if we sell on our own, rather than in a system”.
Advising that without creating a story and “the capability of creating emotions through what you deliver,” it is unlikely a brand will last very long in an environment where “the competition is more aggressive than ever”.
As for how Elkann practices mindfulness, it is a sum of all his experiences.
“Mindfulness has come into play in my professional career far more in the last year than it has in the past and it’s not about complicating it, it’s about simplifying. Then you simply have relationships that are far more real and honest than with others. Living in the real world helps you to do so. Being an entrepreneur is great, but it’s not enough for me.”
The realisation, he said, has driven him to set up his new philanthropic initiative L.A.P.S. to “look at many of the themes that touch youth – such as hyperactivity (which is seen as a problem – it’s not a problem if pointed in the right direction), dyslexia and mental abuse. I chose to create a platform that works on them. It’s not about doing many projects, it’s about doing few very well. Business is great and I’m enthusiastic – but it’s not enough. It didn’t fulfil my life enough; being mindful is listening to your heart as well as listening to numbers. I shifted my way of thinking and way of being.”