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At the end of July, Rolls-Royce debuted its new Phantom, featuring a wholly original bespoke concept: “The Gallery.”
The Phantom is synonymous with Rolls-Royce, with each model tailored to each customer. “The Gallery” takes that customization to the next—and more artistic—level, using the dashboard space to display specially commissioned works of art and design.
The Phantom debuted in 1925, and its latest iteration, said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce, “points the way forward for the global luxury industry. It is a creation of great beauty and power, a dominant symbol of wealth and human achievement. It is an icon and an artwork that embraces the personal desires of each of our individual customers.”
The possibility to further capture its clients’ individuality, recognizing them as patrons of not only high-end motor cars but exquisite art and objects, as well, led to the project of presenting artwork within the Phantom, headed by Design Director Giles Taylor. “The reduced and symmetrically balanced line-work of Phantom’s instrument panel frames a generous and beautifully simple application of glass. It runs, uninterrupted, across the fascia, emphasizing a sense of width. Positioned front and center, it is the focal point of the interior of New Phantom, providing a perfect stage for artworks. This treatment of glass enables an unprecedented opportunity for the protection and presentation of works of art, which is why, we have rather aptly named it, ‘The Gallery,’” he said.
Instead of glossy wood or buffed metal, the panel can now feature specially commissioned artworks by Thorsten Franck, Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, Helen Amy Murray, Based Upon, Richard Fox, Nature Squared, or Liang Yuanwei—a group of artists, artisans, and master craftsman curated by Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer and Creative Lead Designer of “The Gallery” Artist Commissions.
For the project, Nature Squared created Iridescent Opulence, an abstract installation of over 3000 woven feathers, introducing a natural element into a mechanical context. In Immortal Beauty, Nymphenburg also sought nature as inspiration, choosing to encapsulate the English rose in the lightest and thinnest white and darkest porcelain possible. Richard Fox, a goldsmith who has previously collaborated with Rolls-Royce, developed Astrum, a suspended sunburst of floating silver spars adorned with amethyst stones.
A similar feeling of suspension was distilled by Based Upon in A Moment in Time. The collective wanted to translate the feeling of time stopping when a Phantom drives past. They digitally captured an image of silk flowing underwater, worked it into clay, and then machined it into one solid aluminum piece. That movement of material, also interested textile designer Helen Amy Murray. Honing in on the trailing arm of the Spirit of Ecstasy, the illustration by sculptor Charles Sykes that inspired the figurine on the hood of every Rolls-Royce, she created a wing-like, draped form in Whispered Muse.
Texture was further explored in artist Liang Yuanwei’s Autumn Palette. Her floral tableau was made from a generous application of paint to evoke the color and shapes of the West Sussex countryside—a landscape she fell in love with after visiting the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood.
As Innes described, “[‘The Gallery’] not only reaffirms Rolls-Royce is bespoke, it furthers that notion for the future.” And Thorsten Franck’s approach with Digital Soul had that more futuristic bent, making his commission arguably the most individual of all. Franck can create a unique customer profile that is converted into a complex algorithm to generate idiosyncratic forms that are then printed on stainless steel and gold-plated. Franck was able to achieve the largest single printing of stainless steel in automotive history, while offering a visual interpretation as distinct as a fingerprint.
“The Gallery” not only elevates the possibility of customized cars, it introduced challenging materials and previously unachieved processes to its design studio, as well as the practices of the commissioned artists and artisans.
“As patrons increasingly commission a Rolls-Royce for its aesthetic power, they trust in the knowledge that only the finest materials fashioned at the hands of a collective of skilled artisans will produce a motor car that transcends its primary role as a means of conveyance, to become a meaningful and substantive expression of art, design and engineering excellence. ‘The Gallery’ is an innovation that furthers Rolls-Royce’s unparalleled Bespoke capabilities. Patrons are now invited to commission artworks for their own personal Gallery within Phantom, in essence, bringing art, within art,” said Müller-Ötvös.