Unique works of art made for eternity
BY JASMIN HUMMEL
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2017)
The latest iteration of the Phantom is being celebrated as the world’s best car. It is the symbol of a reinterpretation of the ‘Architecture of Luxury’. What makes it so special is the unique, high-end design of the interior, the brainchild of the Rolls-Royce design team in collaboration with contemporary artists from all over the world. The Phantom is a travelling museum and an art repository. These luxury cars are expected to increase many times in value within just a few years. Once again, Rolls-Royce has demonstrated its sense of innovative master-class design.
No other brand represents luxury, perfection and a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ more than Rolls-Royce. Each and every vehicle is the embodiment of the quest for absolute beauty and perfection. From the beginnings of daring experimentation to this very day, the founders and creators have pursued the vision of creating a unique design object and technical masterpiece with every car. With each new-generation creation, they not only wish to design a luxury car and purposeful means of transport, they also fulfil a dream – a miracle of technical and aesthetic perfection, and the image of the manufacturer’s, the designers’ and the customer’s unique DNA.
This philosophy is the motivation to further develop Rolls-Royce into the symbol of this feeling of luxury and – with its product – to provide lovers of luxury the opportunity to individually express their personal lifestyle and tastes. An important aspect of the responsibility of the design team is to understand this and to delve into a world of luxury far beyond the automotive horizon. Inspired by the world of fashion, art and design, they transcend the realm in which automobile designers normally move.
The benefactors and lovers of the brand include numerous passionate collectors of contemporary art. This has been taken up by the design team under the direction of Giles Taylor, and implemented in a revolutionary way with the new Phantom. A mobile museum, or – as Giles himself puts it – ‘The Gallery’. With this, Rolls-Royce is considered the creator of the world’s most famous mobile design objects and the representative of the true expression of luxury and exclusivity. This novel Rolls-Royce concept is a true highlight for both the customer and the artist. With this concept, the trend towards presenting art in so-called off-spaces, which are becoming increasingly popular among contemporary artists, is put into new dimensions by Rolls-Royce.
Artists and craftsmen from all over the world have accepted the invitation of Alex Innes, creative leads designer of ‘The Gallery’, to bring the new work of art to life. The result is a collection of unique creations in conjunction with Rolls-Royce automobile design aimed at wowing customers of the marque. The design team has achieved just that with the initiation of ‘The Gallery’. It is a space for curating, commissioning, exhibiting and admiring art and reflecting on it. A glass panel runs the entire width of the dashboard in the world’s greatest luxury article. The glass protects the work of art and acts as a safety element, enabling the visual presentation of the work of art in the same way as a display cabinet does in a museum. An innovation that uniquely combines Rolls-Royce’s incomparably customised vision and mastery of idea, materials and craftsmanship. As a result, it forms the main focus of the interior, offering the perfect stage for the work of art and custom design.
Traditional craftsmanship and computer-generated and highly technical design create seductive and visually appealing elements that trigger all-round fascination and transform the manufacture of one of these vehicles into a truly special experience within the overall development process. The artists included their handwriting in the respective models. The work ‘Immortal Beauty’ by the Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory (Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg) showcases the exclusivity of the selection process of each individual product design. The result is a truly unique rose that was exclusively cultivated for Rolls-Royce in the English countryside by award-winning Harkness Roses and flown to Nymphenburg Palace in southern Germany to be received by the master craftsmen of the world-famous porcelain manufactory. There, the rose was examined from its bud phase all the way through to full bloom and replicated by hand in the finest porcelain for the ‘sanctum’ of the Phantom gallery.
The model entitled ‘Whispered Muse’ takes its inspiration from the Rolls-Royce figurehead. The ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ – based on a precursor known as ‘The Whisper’ – has adorned the bonnet of every car since 1911, and has now been a muse for Rolls-Royce and artists across the globe for more than 100 years. Helen Amy Murray disguises her sculptural relief work with high-end, exquisite materials such as leather and silk, lending it a sensual touch. The studio of artists and designers named Based Upon, housed in London’s East End, created an aluminium work that is a symbol of timelessness. Here, a silk scarf was drawn through water and the capturing of the moment of this flowing movement formed the foundation for the sculpture. British designer and goldsmith Richard Fox designed his work of art ‘Astrum’ using precious metals, precious and semi-precious gems such as diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and tanzanites. The shapes were inspired by sea urchins, plants and stellar constellations.
Nature Square, a natural materials design specialist from Switzerland, created ‘Iridescent Opulence’ – a work of art that unites ethics, beauty and luxury. Natural materials such as feathers are used, creating an atmospheric, organic work of art. Chinese artist Liang Yuanwei crafted her work of art by means of the relief-like application of paint, creating a sculptural picture for ‘The Gallery’. The work ‘Digital Soul’ is a computer-generated design that captures the character of the user in a unique algorithm, transcribing it using 3D printing and interpreting it in the form of gold-plated stainless steel. This is a progressive representation of the unique DNA of its owner.
Rolls-Royce purchasers demand only the very best materials, hand-finished and exclusively-crafted products. And the new Phantom caters to this credo in two ways. The design elements are conceived together with the purchaser very much in line with their personal preferences and tastes. From the simple use of wood or metal all the way through to the considerably more complex deployment of materials not usually considered within the context of an automobile – unique relief work with the most diverse high-end materials is designed and created on this surface. Gold, porcelain and various gemstones are used with technical sophistication. Only the most exclusive being deployed, embodied by the DNA of every artist. With their works, the designers and artists have managed to transcend classical product design and create works that not only embody the features of contemporary art, but also enter the realms of jewellery, sculpture and architecture. A new discipline that is only possible in conjunction with traditional artisanry and by using state-of-the-art production technologies and that can only be implemented within this context.
With this, the Phantom VIII demonstrates that Rolls-Royce is more than just one of the most beautiful, exquisite vehicles and has become the world’s most expensive luxury item. It is an exceptional collectors’ piece for any art aficionado and a coveted object in a new class of automobiles. The first handmade Phantoms will be delivered to customers from January 2018 – with a waiting list of already a year.
Picture credit © LOL KEEGAN