IE University students from various bachelor’s degree programs recently worked hand-in-hand with the French luxury brand Longchamp as part of the practical course “Communicating through objects: experiencing luxury.” This project focused on the evolving needs of consumers, as well as current challenges in the luxury environment. Experimenting through handcrafted exercises helped students better understand nonverbal communication through objects.

On May 5 at 7 p.m., the students gathered at the Longchamp store on 56 Calle Serrano. They presented what they had been working on for the last few months: project proposals that would help the luxury brand find novel ways of associating with young consumers. The presentation was the icing on the cake for this elective course—taught by professor Saskia Bostelmann—during which students have been able to act as 360-degree consultants to the brand.

Throughout the course, students from various disciplines—including design, business, international relations and communications—worked in groups to create concepts and objects that could add value to the commercial strategy of the Longchamp brand. Collaborating with participants from such diverse backgrounds helped them expand their vision and complement each other’s abilities. “Working with students from different bachelor’s degree programs was my favorite part of the project, as we combined our different strengths to create the best product possible,” said Clara Folkebo, a communications student.

“Working with students from different bachelor’s degree programs was my favorite part of the project, as we combined our different strengths to create the best product possible”

Clara Folkebo

This class required students to combine both theoretical knowledge and creativity in order to deliver a real-life solution to the company. “They developed a keen ability to understand a luxury brand and learned to recognize its values of craftsmanship, savoir-faire, sustainability and circular economy,” explained Professor Bostelmann. “This involved not only conceptual research, but a practical approach where the students had to communicate the essence of Longchamp through objects,” she added. Students used wax carving, for instance, to create experimental brass keychains for the brand. This elective challenged their creative boundaries, encouraging them to leave their comfort zones behind.

For their final project, the students proposed different ideas and multidisciplinary approaches to enhance Longchamp’s connection with its customers. For example, Aline Schmidt, Constance Deleu and Christian Roessler reinterpreted the glamour of 1950s travel to celebrate Longchamp’s 75th anniversary. After immersing themselves in the history of the brand, they decided to pay tribute to Longchamp’s duty-free airport stores—an initiative the company pioneered.

Exploring another way to increase brand awareness, Javier Oliva, Clara Flokebo and María Pareja sought to blend the brand with technology. They created “Discovering Longchamp,” a detective-type game in which the user tests their knowledge of the company’s products and history in a game that can be played both in-person and virtually. Taking on the challenge of developing the project fully, the team was able to see it through every stage of the process; from market research to idea generation and, finally, presenting the final product.

“We loved our experience with IE University. It was an enjoyable collaboration where the professor and students surprised us by understanding our firm’s DNA, as well as proposing projects in relation to Longchamp’s values of authenticity and energy. It’s still too early to know if we’ll be able to carry out some of the projects presented, but I’m sure that, in one way or another, the IE University students—thanks to their creativity and analytical skills—have helped open our minds to how to relate with our customers,” says Benedicte Deigat, the country manager for Longchamp Spain.

With Longchamp as their luxury experimentation partner, students discovered the world of brand awareness and the shifting scenarios of the post-pandemic retail world. They got the opportunity to work on a real-life project and analyze the impact that their proposals could have on the company’s future. “Seeing my students presenting their pieces in the store was very rewarding. When they saw themselves being part of the space, presenting their projects next to legendary designs, they felt proud and encouraged to experiment more,” explains Saskia.

Note: A special thank you to Longchamp Spain: Benedicte Deigat (General Manager), Gaëlle Cárdenas (Retail Director, Spain), Aurélie Darorze (Training Manager) and Alberto García (HR Manager). Our thanks also to students María Fernanda Noriega and Ximena Soto for their help, and special gratitude to Bevan Josh Dolon for helping design, prepare and set up the event.