Prima fas­cia

Be­spoke dashboard art, the new in-car ac­ces­sory for your Rolls-royce Phantom

Wallpaper - - September -

Rolls-royce’s art gallery on wheels

Rolls-royce doesn’t be­lieve in rush­ing it­self to mar­ket. In­stead, the Good­wood-based man­u­fac­turer takes pride in play­ing the long game. Its cars have a grav­i­tas and power that comes with longevity – the Phantom has 92 years of his­tory spread over seven gen­er­a­tions.

Re­plac­ing the 13-year-old sev­enth edi­tion is a tall or­der. For Giles Tay­lor, Rolls-royce’s de­sign di­rec­tor, a new Phantom of­fered new pos­si­bil­i­ties. Spec­i­fy­ing a mod­ern lux­ury car is in­creas­ingly akin to build­ing a house or a yacht. There are ex­tremes; the com­pany re­cently un­veiled the Swep­tail, a one-off coupé built for an ex­tremely well-heeled cus­tomer. Rolls-royce ac­knowl­edged it was ‘prob­a­bly the most ex­pen­sive new car ever’.

This level of per­son­al­i­sa­tion isn’t prac­ti­cal for ev­ery Rolls. How­ever, the new Phantom has one fea­ture in par­tic­u­lar that blends the com­pany’s bur­geon­ing pa­tron­age of the arts with its cus­tomers’ love of the be­spoke. ‘When we be­gan the con­cep­tual start point for the fas­cia of the new Phantom, we re­alised we had an op­por­tu­nity to cre­ate a ded­i­cated gallery space,’ says Tay­lor. ‘It was an au­to­mo­tive first.’ Rolls-royce de­signer Alex Innes de­scribes it as ‘a can­vas within the in­te­rior space of the car’. To show­case the pos­si­bil­i­ties, the de­sign team ap­proached sev­eral fel­low cre­atives. ‘We wanted part­ners with a fresh per­spec­tive and no au­to­mo­tive ex­pe­ri­ence,’ says Innes, ‘us­ing ma­te­ri­als and tech­niques not seen in a car be­fore.’

Ian Abell, who founded Lon­don stu­dio Based Upon (see W*194) with his brother Richard, was one of the pi­o­neers. ‘Rolls-royce ap­proached us for ideas on how to fill the space,’ he re­calls. The Gallery is mounted be­hind spe­cial glass in the dashboard, a ‘dis­play case’ with suf­fi­cient depth for a true sculp­tural piece. Based Upon’s de­sign draws in­spi­ra­tion from the Phantom’s highly re­fined power de­liv­ery. ‘We wanted a piece that looked like it had har­nessed great en­ergy in a mys­te­ri­ous way – al­most as if it was alive.’ The stu­dio cre­ated move­ment by draw­ing fab­ric through a tank of wa­ter. The process swapped back and forth be­tween dig­i­tal and ana­logue, cul­mi­nat­ing in a fi­nal form milled from a solid block of avi­a­tion-grade alu­minium and pol­ished to em­pha­sise light and shade.

The in­ter­play of light and re­flec­tions is all part of the Phantom ex­pe­ri­ence, as is the re­tractable in­for­ma­tion screen that glides away to let the art­work shine. It’s all about the de­tails. ‘In a way,’ Tay­lor con­cludes, ‘each Phantom is an art project in its own right.’ Now there’s one more thing to com­mis­sion be­fore you can get be­hind the wheel. ∂ rolls-royce­mo­tor­;

Early stud­ies on move­ment and weight­less­ness in the Based Upon stu­dio, as the team de­signed a sculp­ture to il­lus­trate the pos­si­bil­i­ties of be­spoke art­work within the new Phantom Fur­ther stud­ies on the move­ment of fab­rics in wa­ter to in­form the...

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