This is going to sound incredibly student-y, and incredibly 2012—but the iPhone does a really good job. It's something which is designed top-to-bottom, is hugely desirable and fashionable but most importantly, not elitist. It's a cultural icon that people are willing to pay extraordinary amounts for—but it only lasts for, say, four years. This is pretty much how the furniture industry would like to be, but they're not. Maybe it has something to do with the payment plan you can get for an iPhone? Maybe it's because it does pretty much everything for us? Just think though, if I took the $800 I spent on a phone every 2 years, within 10 years I would have a chair which would last 60 years... It's obviously a pretty difficult think to conceptualize, and to stick to, but an interesting thought nonetheless.
To put the problem in the most plane manner, you have these companies which sell fairly expensive pieces of furniture, but the furniture is incredibly high quality and will last you a long time, if not forever. Cost generally aligns itself with an idea of quality, but also does have the potential to align itself with fashion and desirability. Luxury is not a word that any of these companies want associated with their product, because luxury implies exclusivity, if you asked them they would rather you used quality.
The funny thing is, I think if you spoke to most people, they would say luxury was closer to the mark. The fact is that it is a luxury for most people to have multiple pieces (or even a single piece) of high-quality furniture. Most people don't conceive of furniture in terms of out living them in today's society, which is ruled by seasonal changes in fashion and high turnover of product. IKEA rules the world—and there isn't anything wrong with IKEA per-say, its just lower quality product which is made to be replaced every 3-5 years. I think it would be fair to say that IKEA doesn't make heritage products.
So I guess I have two questions here—how do we walk the line between high-design and high-brow, bringing people into the fold and not being exclusive, and how do we create desire for original or authentic designed products by having a conversation with a consumer and not preaching to them? Come to think of it, one more quick question: its worth considering the market—most customers of these companies are 40+, but tomorrows market are the younger people today who aspire—so how do we push the attainability of these products while keeping them desirable?