An understanding that the marque’s patrons are increasingly collectors of fine and contemporary art has led the Rolls-Royce Design Team, to create a space behind this glass, in which patrons can commission and curate art, a space aptly named, ‘The Gallery’.
“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 Torsten Müller Ötvös, Chief Executive, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
A World of Luxury Far Beyond Automotive Horizons
Rolls-Royce’s standing as creator of the most celebrated objects in the world is informed by an intimate understanding that true luxury is personal. This philosophy has driven the marque’s collective of designers, artisans and engineers to constantly evolve the canvas from which patrons of luxury can express their tastes and lifestyle requirements.
An intrinsic part of the Rolls-Royce Design team’s responsibility is to understand and immerse themselves in a world of luxury far beyond automotive horizons. Drawing inspiration from the worlds of fashion, art and design, the collective continually examines the work of experts in their fields, furthering skills and knowledge in order to push the boundaries beyond the limitations car designers are usually confined to.
In conceiving ‘The Gallery’, the design team has done just this. ‘The Gallery’ is a space in which to curate and to commission, to exhibit, admire and reflect. A pure application of glass runs uninterrupted across the fascia of the greatest luxury item in the world, an innovation that furthers Rolls-Royce’s unparalleled Bespoke vision and mastery of materials and craft.
The Perfect Stage for Artworks
“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, emphasising a sense of width. Positioned front and centre, 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’.” Giles Taylor, Director of Design, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, said.
From a simple application of wood or metal, to a more complex use of materials not normally viable in an automotive context and enhanced by incorporating relief, ‘The Gallery’ extends the patron’s experience of curation with the marque to a new realm.
In this spirit, Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer and Creative Lead Designer of ‘The Gallery’ Artist Commissions, has invited artists and master artisans from around the world to interpret ‘The Gallery’.
The result? A collection of unique and artistic creations, free from the constraints of automotive design, to inspire the marque’s patrons, in a way that only Rolls-Royce can.
The Art and Artists
Thorsten Franck: Digital Soul
A truly Bespoke commission, Thorsten Franck’s Rolls-Royce Phantom Gallery, Digital Soul, is an artistic interpretation of its Patron’s DNA.
Thorsten, from Munich, Germany, is a product designer who acts as a conduit between computer-generated design, additive manufacturing and hand-craftsmanship.
Thorsten’s fusion of human endeavour with technology results in a work which juxtaposes the pre-disposed expectations of additive manufacturing and computer generated design by creating an alluring and visually complex fascia for New Phantom, adapting the use of technology to render an artwork as unique as a fingerprint.
Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer and Creative Lead Designer for ‘The Gallery’ artist commissions, identified a unique skill in Thorsten Franck; the ability to transcend product design, creating work which not only embodies the characteristics of contemporary art, but which enters the realms of jewellery, sculpture and architecture; a discipline made possible only by the use of cutting-edge technology Thorsten Franck begins by capturing the patron’s character in a unique algorithm. This data is then transcribed using the art of 3D printing, forming the largest piece of 3D printed stainless steel featured in a production car, made possible only by this use of additive manufacturing.
Here, traditional artisanal craft blends exquisitely with tomorrow’s production methods. More than one day of polishing produced a work worthy of being plated in nearly 50g of 24 carat gold. The work interacts with the changing light of the day, reflecting brilliance whilst casting shadows. The visual characteristics of gold ensure each observer’s experience will be a personal one dictated by their physical position in Phantom and the strength of the sun’s rays or soft glow of the up-lit stage lights on the gold, set within ‘The Gallery’.
Alex Innes, commented, “Thorsten Franck was selected for his ability to meld craft with technology, bringing with him a new medium of generated craft which is made possible only by the use of technology. Thorsten’s work furthers the expectations of the use of technology by creating a precious luxury item as Bespoke as the Phantom in which it resides. His progressive depiction of an owners’ unique DNA is both avant-garde in its design and compelling in its beauty.”
Thorsten Franck said of the commission, “Additive manufacturing is often viewed as a convenience or solution. My work embraces this technology and manipulates it to produce a unique work of art that could not be created by man alone. I have mapped an algorithm to interpret your soul. The visual aesthetics of gold change throughout the day by reflecting the light; there is life in this sculpture.”
Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg: Immortal Beauty
A truly individual rose, conceived and bred exclusively for Rolls-Royce in the English countryside by award-winning Harkness Roses, was flown to the Nymphenburg Palace in Bavaria, Southern Germany, to awaiting master artisans from world-renowned porcelain manufacturer Nymphenburg.
Here, the rose was examined in its varying stages, from bud to lush flower in full bloom, and crafted freely by hand in the finest of porcelain for the elegant sanctuary of ‘The Gallery’.
Founded in 1747, Nymphenburg porcelain graces the greatest residences and collections of the world’s most prominent families. These extraordinary pieces are collected and coveted in the knowledge that their craftspeople have been afforded nearly 300 years to perfect their art.
For this collaboration, a new porcelain formula was developed in the manufactory in Munich, Germany. The development process alone lasted three months in order to create porcelain as fine as the petal of the rose itself. The range of roses depicted shows the varying stages of the life of this rose, with some of the most elaborate blossoms consisting of up to 80 individual elements freely shaped by hand.
The delicate aesthetic is accented in a contemporary way by the marriage of black and white, a pairing uniquely perfected for this artwork. Until now, the processing of white and black porcelain paste has been strictly separated in the manufactory’s production process, as even the smallest residue of black paste on a craftsperson’s tools, invisible to the naked eye, leads to impurities that only become visible after firing. Black porcelain had previously been held for the preserve of casting, meaning the black paste had to be developed to ensure it was as malleable as its white counterpart. For this unique design, white and black paste has been created in parallel, in the same soft state, at the workstation of Anton Hörl, a master craftsman for Nymphenburg for over 40 years.
But each individual blossom only acquires its final appearance when it is fired. Since the porcelain changes during the firing process, and also shrinks by 17 per cent, individual firing supports have had to be made. Also made from porcelain, these supported the blossoms and leaves, preventing the draw of gravity. The white and black bisque porcelain has been fired in a single process for the first time, requiring the expert knowledge of the Nyphenburg kiln foremen, who have developed a process with different firing curves, which achieve an optimal result in just one firing process.
Anton Hörl, Master Porcelain Maker, Nymphenburg, commented, “Nature is simply perfect and imitating it is a challenge. We as artists have to ensure that our emulation does nature justice. I wanted to feel the tension of each individual blossom. The observer must be able to recognise not only the variety, but also its unique character.”
The rose, bred for Rolls-Royce by Philip Harkness of Harkness Roses, was developed for its strength, resilience and intricate bloom. The flower is large, opening from a plump rounded bud into a large cupped bloom. The rose is strong with an admirable resistance to disease.
Sina Maria Eggl, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer, said, “Our search for the quintessential English rose led us to award-winning Harkness Roses. Here we collaboratively bred a rose worthy of its newly found immortal being. Nymphenburg and Rolls-Royce engaged in an artistic dialogue, allowing an advancement of existing methods of manufacture and shifting the limits of what’s possible.”
Rose breeder Philip Harkness of Harkness Roses, added, “A rose has the ability to captivate you on many levels. It is a thing of beauty, it can stimulate the senses with wonderful perfume, the soft touch of the petals or the rasping pain from a thorn. It touches our emotions, signifies love and appears in some of our finest poetry. How can a simple flower live up to this expectation? The new rose that Rolls-Royce has commissioned makes easy work of the task. Observe the glory of the bloom. There can be few more enjoyable experiences, thanks to the unending generosity and diversity of nature captured in one single rose.”
Helen Amy Murray: Whispered Muse
British artist Helen Amy Murray reinterprets an icon. On visiting the Home of Rolls-Royce, Helen encountered the figurine of the Spirit of Ecstasy which led her to an exploration of the line drawings of its creator, sculptor and illustrator Charles Sykes.
The Spirit of Ecstasy, based on Sykes’ original bronze statue ‘The Whisper’, has graced the prow of every Rolls-Royce motor car since 1911 and in doing so, has become a muse to artists around the world for over 100 years.
Helen is an artist with a natural affinity with fabric. Her work masterfully sculpts textiles, most frequently leather, suede and their faux counterparts, into unique three-dimensional decorative surfaces and compelling works of art. With a wide portfolio ranging from large-scale wall hangings to unique pieces of furniture, Helen’s work captivates in its sculpted textural form.
With a Masters Degree in Textile Design from London’s Central St Martins, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Colour and Trim Designer, Cherica Haye, was perfectly placed to collaborate with Helen. Together, they experimented, developed and refined various iterations of this Gallery’s design.
Helen has skilfully created a work for New Phantom’s Gallery with a dual illusion. On first glance, a serene landscape emerges from a delicate organic form. The sculpted silk appliqué provides a mesmerising aesthetic with a linear style, from which, on closer examination, a subtle draped female form appears, the wing of the elusive Spirit of Ecstasy. Even then, she appears shrouded in mystery, with the design only hinting at her form through the delicate silhouette of the line of her neck that emerges from the edge of ‘The Gallery’.
By creating different planes to the design through directional sculpting, Helen has created individual contours, beautiful in their own right, that fuse together to form a larger cohesive figural form.
Helen Amy Murray, artist, said of the design, “I was inspired by the ethereal quality of the illustrations of The Spirit of Ecstasy by Charles Sykes. They led me to incorporate the female form into my work; I wanted my Gallery commission to look soft and organic. The subtle spacing of lines brings the draped figure into perspective.”
Cherica Haye, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Colour and Trim Designer commented, “The Spirit of Ecstasy extends her graceful wing to enrapture her passengers and convey them to a serene sanctuary, where the whisper of flight imbues calmness and tranquillity in Helen Amy Murray’s Phantom Gallery. A true connection can be felt between Helen’s materials and the subject, enhancing the graceful ambience of the Phantom’s calm interior.”
Based Upon A Moment in Time
“The sweet spot of luxury is a beautiful crafted object, but somehow at the core of the object, is something that is personal to the client.” Ian Abel, Co-founder, Based Upon.
It is a resonant understanding of this belief that led Rolls-Royce to Based Upon, a collective of artists located in the heart of London’s East End. A desire to commission an item so personal it becomes a treasured legacy, surpassing superficial material acquisition to become true luxury, is epitomised in A Moment in Time. The work beguiles, speaking of the perceived control on time that Phantom commands. Time stands still as you encounter the presence of the motor car.
Considered storytelling is at the heart of Based Upon’s ethos. The collective journeys the world uncovering rich narratives to inform works ranging from public sculpture to finely crafted surface applications for private residences, which have aesthetics at the fore, blurring the lines of function and meaning.
Personal significance lies at the core of both Based Upon and Rolls-Royce’s endeavour. The former, with tales of the patron interwoven to the heart of its being, the latter, an item which transcends its original role, to become an aesthetic representation of personal endeavour.
On exploring the foundations of the world’s most celebrated brand, Based Upon uncovered a marque that was founded on experimentation, bold excitement and a desire to accomplish feats that were deemed impossible. “This, excited us”, commented Ian Abell, Based Upon’s co-founder. “When you get a brand like Rolls-Royce that has a brand value that’s so heavy and so weighty in the consciousness of design, of luxury, of Britain, of innovation, combined with The Gallery’s specific brief and parameters of project, we got excited with that.”
“The spirit of Rolls-Royce, namely, speed with silence, absence of vibration, the mysterious harnessing of great energy, and a beautiful living organism of superb grace…”, the prose of Claude Johnson, Managing Director of Rolls-Royce at the time of the Hon. Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce. Based Upon sought to encapsulate this spirit which is still found at the heart of the marque today, alive in the Spirit of Ecstasy as she graces the prow of each motor car made at the Home of Rolls-Royce.
This led to Based Upon’s interpretation of New Phantom’s Gallery. Lex Welch, Co-founder of Based Upon, commented, “We tried to capture a moment as though the Spirit of Ecstasy’s shawl was allowed to drape over the car at high speed, capturing that moment that leaves time standing still, as the Spirit of Ecstasy trails all in her wake.”
The creation of A Moment in Time is as remarkable as its muse. A swath of silk was pulled through a tank of water, weighted and suspended, controlling this moment. Captured on camera, the resulting fluid form was then analysed by the Rolls-Royce Design team and the artists of Based Upon, before being remastered in clay. A malleable wax sculpture was then reworked to optimise the impact of ‘The Gallery’s’ space. This final interpretation was machined from a solid billet of aluminium, polished to accentuate the curvature of the alluded fabric.
Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer, said of the collaboration, “Based Upon incorporate the essence of true luxury into every element of their work. From the research and development, to materials and execution, theirs is a perfect art of intellect and skill, melded with an abundance of creativity. Their interpretation of ‘The Gallery’ is a truly emotive adaptation of the presence of Phantom.”
Richard Fox: Astrum
Phantom has been the canvas for some of the most opulent expressions of true luxury in recent years. From handwoven, hand-embroidered and hand-painted silk, to elaborate depictions of cityscapes made from thousands of individually set pieces of marquetry, Phantom embodies the Bespoke wishes of patrons like no other.
British Designer and Goldsmith, Richard Fox, has himself been part of Phantom’s rich history. The allure of gemstones and the desire of Phantom’s patrons to furnish their interior cabin with precious metals and captivating stones has led Richard Fox to embellish many personal Rolls-Royce commissions with precious and semi-precious jewels including diamonds, emeralds, sapphires, rubies and Tanzanite.
Astrum, meaning star, constellation, glory, immortality and Heaven, was a concept produced by Alex Innes of Rolls-Royce Bespoke Design and Richard Fox of Fox Silver for New Phantom’s Gallery.
Inspiration was sought from artists who had explored the starburst formation in both the natural and man-made world. Sea urchins and plants, explosions and skyscapes, all had influence on Astrum’s final design.
A star burst emanates from a centrally placed single brilliant cut diamond, encased in platinum. Each solid silver spear, filed, soldered, shaped and hand-polished, has been created to carry pear-cut amethysts, evoking a precious jewel-like quality to the artwork. The backing has been engraved with a guilloche effect, a technique found in the finest of jewellery, formed to incorporate the curvature of the dashboard and to provide visual depth to ‘The Gallery’. A rich amethyst lacquer, named Violet de Nuit, is used to reflect and intensify the colour of the stones carried at the ends of the spears.
The clock, viewed by many patrons as the jewel of the interior, carries an additional guilloche design in sterling silver with the same amethyst tint complementing that of the main body of work. Fine wires have been laser-welded to the spears, positioned so the stones stand proudly against the resplendent backdrop.
Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer, said of the commission, “Richard Fox’s work can be found in some of our recent most highly Bespoke iterations of Phantom. It is fitting therefore that he has turned his hand to ‘The Gallery’, a space in which patrons are invited to commission unique works of art, to bring objet d’art to the centre stage of their New Phantom.”
Richard Fox MDes RCA commented, “The Gallery offers patrons of Phantom an unparalleled level of Bespoke opportunities. The use of natural gemstones and a brilliant cut diamond will bring movement to ‘The Gallery’, as light refracts, accentuating the depth of the design. This work brings an entirely new interpretation of diamonds to the dashboard.”
Nature Squared: Iridescent Opulence
Wings of flight transcend the worldly stage to cosset Phantom’s occupants in rich, iridescent, sumptuous luxury.
Swiss-based Nature Squared creates beautiful things for beautiful spaces. Applying heritage artistic crafts to ethically sourced and sustainable natural materials, Nature Squared embrace technical innovation to transform nature’s beauty. In a move that echo’s the views of Rolls-Royce, Nature Squared embraces artisanal skills which are the antithesis of mass production. Their work can be found in the upper echelons of many industries where a desire to be surrounded by objects of outstanding natural beauty prevails.
Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer and Creative Lead Designer of the artistic Gallery commissions, commented, “Nature Squared is an established materials specialist which creates astoundingly beautiful finishes using the latest technology to transform sustainable natural materials. A desire to redefine expectations of the use of these natural sources leads Nature Squared to an unrivalled realm with luxury at its core.”
For their Phantom Gallery commission, Nature Squared was inspired to work with items that have until now been impossible to incorporate into a motor car. Feathers, which exude luxury, are a bold and progressive aesthetic to incorporate into an automotive context. Extensive research was carried out to identify a sustainable species of bird with a rich dense plumage which would provide an opulent and decadent interior to adorn Phantom’s Gallery. Over 3,000 tail feathers were selected for their iridescence, individually shaped to accentuate the sheen and rich hue of the natural feathers and hand-sewn onto an open pore fabric in a design that originates from the heart of ‘The Gallery’, the clock. Additive manufacturing was used to emulate the musculature of a natural wing to bring life to the creation, creating an atmospheric artwork that brings both movement and fragility to this Gallery.
The clock alone is a work to be revered. Continuing their exploration of organic materials, the centrepiece is inlaid with ethically and sustainably sourced Jade green abalone, which emphasises the lustrous texture of the feathers.
Martin Ehrath, Head of Research and Development for Nature Squared, commented, “The inky iridescence and sumptuous texture of the feathers provide a sense of true luxury. Phantom’s clock has been softly cossetted by feathers, their fragility protected by ‘The Gallery’s’ glass fascia. The timeless beauty and elegant grace of this Gallery is preserved in the sanctity of Phantom’s interior.”
Liang Yuanwei Autumn Palette
Liang Yuanwei is a widely acclaimed and internationally exhibited Chinese artist. In her commission for the New Phantom, she ponders the Autumnal tones of the English countryside that surround the Home of Rolls-Royce in West Sussex, which she encountered during her time with the marque.
The atmospheric countryside of England, with fertile soil and abundant vegetation and differing layers of colours from green to yellow, even red, are redolent in her artwork for ‘The Gallery’.
Liang Yuanwei said of the commission, “My artwork for ‘The Gallery’ is reflective of the impression that I get from the marque, having seen the human and natural environment of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars’ headquarters. I wanted to capture the atmosphere and reproduce it. That feeling is sophisticated, a sophistication that envelops you.”
Liang Yuanwei applies paint so thickly that it appears almost sculpted, carving floral and geometric patterns whose fissures are filled with additional layers of paint to create a finish resembling silk or satin. Her work masterfully captures the impression and texture of fabric through her application of paint. Here, from seemingly random strokes applied from left to right, come exquisite forms. In a serene and meditative scene, the closer you observe, the more you find.
Alex Innes, Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer commented, “The landscape in which artists present their work is evolving. Liang Yuanwei embraces the opportunity presented by the New Phantom Gallery to create a mesmerising painting that is reminiscent of the countryside surrounding the Home of Rolls-Royce.”
“I saw that it was possible to combine my artistic vision with the vision of Rolls-Royce. I have found a common ground between my own creative system and what I feel is the culture of Rolls-Royce. My work references this. commented Liang Yuanwei.
She continued, “Like painting, the many aesthetic details of a car represent the brand’s values and heritage. In each historical era, a brand must choose a particular direction over other options. This choice represents its view of the world in that era. Over time, a brand’s culture is passed on to the present. Some things persist, some things elapse, some things are abandoned, and some things evolve. This is the way of inheritance with a sense of responsibility, like the detailed strokes of a painting. This is also the approach to my work.”