A New York designer says luxury property isn't about how much money you spend, and it shows a major shift in priorities among the elite

luxury real estateAstro-O/Getty Images

Luxury properties are no longer all about marble floors and French doors.

According to New York-based designer Andrew Kotchen, founding principal of architecture and design firm Workshop/APD, luxury is more about experience than aesthetic. Kotchen's firm has designed everything from urban lofts and homes to city buildings and restaurants across London, the Bahamas, Miami, Nantucket, Aspen, and New York City.

"It's about comfort," he said in a recent interview with Mansion Global. "A beautiful hotel, for example, is not luxury if it's not relaxing. It's not just about rich materials spread throughout. The world we live in thinks the more money you throw at it, the more fancy materials, the more luxury it is. It's not true."

He continued: "Certainly there are baseline conditions of quality and craft, but it's really an experience. That's what it means to me. It's not a place, a thing, or a product."

Read more: Outdoor yoga decks, private parks, and 'tranquility gardens' are the hottest new thing in luxury buildings, and it signals a change in status symbols among the wealthy

The focus on experiences explains why luxury condo developers are pouring money into "well-being" amenities. Consider boutique Los Angeles condominium 1030 Kings, which has an outdoor yoga deck, and Arbor18 in Brooklyn, which boasts not only a zen garden but also an infrared sauna with built-in chromotherapy.

It also explains why luxury buyers are downsizing, prioritizing quality over space. But the evolution of luxury real estate is part of a bigger shift in the overall luxury industry: The wealthy are increasingly spending money discreetly and on experiences instead of items that once signified status.

Entire industries are developing or adjusting their services to cater to consumers' heightened interest in the experience behind the brand. As Business Insider's Lina Batarags reported, "Wellness is increasingly regarded as a modern embodiment of luxury, and accordingly, an array of spas and studios offering treatments like cryofacials, weeklong retreats, and vitamin IV drips are delivering those experiences."

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