Rolls-Royce has always been an automobile brand associated with taste and luxury. But as the times change, so do brands, as they modernise and find new clients with unique tastes. For Rolls-Royce, who always puts the customer experience first, that comes in the form of bespoke, commissioned artworks integrated into their cars, resulting in unique, one-of-a-kind designs.
A perfect example of what Rolls-Royce is capable of is exemplified in the Rolls-Royce Phantom Orchid. Over two years in the making, the one-of-a-kin d masterpiece was a result of the combined talent of the Bespoke Collective at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ head office and manufacturing plant at Goodwood, West Sussex, the only place in the world where the company’s super-luxury motor cars are hand-built.
The orchid was chosen as an inspirational theme for resilience, beauty and strength, especially poignant in the trying and challenging times we live in today. Orchids have long been a focal point for art through the ages, but this is the first time they have been chosen for a Rolls-Royce commission. The orchid is the most coveted of ornamental plants: elegant, exotic, graceful yet hardy.
“Phantom Extended, our pinnacle motor car, was chosen to be the ‘blank canvas’ for this commission,” said Michael Bryden, Lead Designer, Rolls-Royce Bespoke. “Our concept envisaged a balanced yet progressive design, which echoes the values of the Singapore region. The orchid is seen in many facets of Asian life, a reminder that the resilient adapt and thrive regardless of the evolving environment. Phantom is the only motor car in the world to feature the Gallery, a space that enables one to exhibit art, sculptures, or objects of self-expression in the sanctuary of Phantom’s interior.”
As a Rolls-Royce customer, one can only expect the highest quality of service. The team tells clients that when it comes to customisation, the only limit is their imagination, where almost any part of the car can be customised to their desire. Besides the team, the workshop itself at Goodwood contains facilities such as a temperature-controlled ultra clean space, that allows them to put it all together, and create a work that is truly meaningful and beautiful, alongside constantly striving to use more sustainable and long-lasting materials.
“For Phantom Orchid, we collaborated with award-winning artist Helen Amy Murray to create a unique, hand-sculpted silk artwork,” adds Michael. “The delicate materials and techniques that were deployed in the creation of this piece are protected behind an application of pure glass, that runs uninterrupted across the fascia of Phantom. Finished in an elegant blend of Grace White, Havana and Smoke Grey with Dark Olive stitching, the interior evokes the calm and serene nature which is inherent to the character of Phantom.”
Helen Amy Murray and her team, who have undertaken pioneering bespoke work with Phantom’s Gallery – a wholly contemporary and luxury reinterpretation of a motor car’s fascia and instrument panel area. Helen was inspired by several kinds of orchids, including the Singapore Orchid, spending over 200 hours relentlessly refining her design and artwork with a team of six. Murray started by illustrating the design by hand before creating a digital version that she could print directly onto the silk crepe satin. The final part of the process involved a meticulous hand-sculpting of the flowers, releasing layers of fabric to create a 3D effect.
“I started by focusing on the actual orchids, which promptly led me to realise that colour was key to capturing the essence of the species. I have created artworks featuring orchids in the past, but my idea for the Gallery was to create something in realistic full colour, which pushed us to refine our digital printing skills,” explains UK-based artist and textile designer Helen Amy Murray, adding that her work is usually more neutral and tone-on-tone: “This more recent return to colour was exciting!”
Within the interior, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer Yohan Benchetrit applied his talent to the Bespoke orchid-inspired Picnic Table Inlays in the rear of the suite which, when opened, gracefully reveal a beautiful layer of orchids set into Piano Black veneer. He added Bespoke treadplates emanating a similar theme sans text to welcome the owner and passengers into the motor car. The interior suite meanwhile was furnished with elegant, natural colours which provide a soothing ambience akin to an Orchid Sanctuary.
To complete this special ‘one of one’ Phantom, a unique paint was specially created using the latest paint technology. Arctic White was chosen as the base colour, while a tint of violet was added, inspired by orchids. Combined with fine glass particles through a special process, the result is a stunning pearlescent appearance. Under bright light, the paint technology creates a shimmering effect like no other, changing as an observer views the motor car from different angles. An eye-catching single coachline on either side of Phantom incorporates a Bespoke motif, inspired by an orchid, completing the theme.
“It draws parallels with the Singapore I know; a thoroughly modern garden city merging nature and technology effortlessly in its make-up,” says Bryden, who has not only spent time in Singapore but designed the now famous, ‘one of one’ ‘SG50 Bespoke Ghost’, created to celebrate the country’s 50th Anniversary. “It was the first time we had produced a motor car to celebrate such an occasion, so I am again delighted to have participated with Yohan and the Bespoke Collective here in Goodwood to create another masterpiece for Singapore.”
Speaking to the team, the project has been in the works since 2019, when they were still in talks with the client. “The length of the process is not a result of COVID-19 but a testament to how much time and work goes into creating such a unique piece,” says Hal Serudin, Corporate Communications Manager, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Asia Pacific (South). “Depending on the intricacy of the design and complexity of the request, whether it’s to do with the colour, design or engineering, that determines how many people will get involved and the scale of the project.
While still a very traditional heritage brand, Rolls-Royce has been constantly pushing themselves to pivot the brand around their growing and changing clientele. One myth that was quickly dispelled is that not every Rolls-Royce owner enjoys being chauffeured around. In fact, an increasing number of owners prefer driving the cars themselves, where they derive the most enjoyment, and feel the sense of control and ownership.
In addition, Rolls-Royce is no longer a ‘male-only’ brand. “There is an increasing number of resourceful and capable women have decided to become owners and sit behind the wheel,” says Ms. Irene Nikkein, Regional Director, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Asia Pacific. “This is something that resonates well with the newer generation of luxury car owners, who are increasingly diverse, in terms of background and age, whether they’re a 30-something year old in a successful Fintech company, or an older client who heads a family business. “
But whoever their client may be, Rolls-Royce treats each and every one of them equally, and sees that whatever they want customised, the brand takes the due diligence and time to ensure satisfaction in fulfilment. “Even in these times where travel is difficult, and clients can no longer fly to Goodwood to see the models, meet the designer and test drive the car, Rolls-Royce instead flies samples in,” says Ms. Renee Chua, Managing Director, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Singapore. “We ensure that we work closely with both designer and client, who are in direct contact with each other, to ensure their desired outcome, from different tonalities, to different coats of colour, to the bespoke elements. Most importantly, we never pressure the client, and all decisions ultimately are the client’s own.”
At the heart of Rolls-Royce is the client, and making sure that what they create represents the brand and comes out as a true work of art. And just as it takes patience, time and dedication to grow an orchid, similarly, crafting a bespoke Rolls-Royce is a process that requires time and passion — but with an end result that more than justifies the wait.
Photos Courtesy of Rolls-Royce
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