In former times, if one wanted to drive safely a Swedish car would be the vehicle of choice, a German one for solidity, an Italian one for sportiness and a French one for its uniqueness. But these days also Swedish cars are sporty, German cars outspoken, Italian cars reliable and French cars safe.
Many brand values that once were unique are now shared. What motivates people now to buy a specific car, tax incentives and subsidies aside, is one of the few remaining unique selling points and exactly that what CineCars is all about; the story. A narrative that can only be told by design.
My name is Niels van Roij. I run my design studio in London, working on product and automotive design projects. It is the job of a car designer to understand the brand, its past and present, brand values, DNA, its purest and deepest essence.
Understanding the full story is important; from having a holistic view of the organization, to seeing the finest, smallest details – literally the fibres of the matter. If that knowledge and understanding are acquired through study and research – depending on the size of the manufacturer sometimes in collaboration with other departments such as marketing – continuity must be accomplished in a relevant way, whilst developing a new model.
Are brand values and image correct or is there a need for change, did the world go into a new direction and should the mark do the same? Is the current line-up still relevant, is a course adjustment due to take place or just a subtle shift?
What happens demographically and how does this relate to our customer base? How do we deal with urbanization, what are new user scenarios such as street-hire, leasing and car sharing, what is the vision for reducing emissions? Do we want to be seen as innovators or traditionalists?
Because there is a very wide range of possible briefing scenarios I feature one of my own projects, so I can discuss every step openly, visualize them in detail and discuss the end result.
The renaissance of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars since the purchase of the brand BMW is remarkable. The introduction of the Phantom range was responsible for the restoration of a group of unique values. The formal but elegant style clearly defines a new era of design. The Phantom’s success was followed by the smaller, more contemporary Ghost.
How could the Rolls-Royce brand DNA be developed in the future, for the year 2020, in compliance with the requirements of the High Net Worth Individual (HNWI) customers and possible user scenarios. In response to this briefing, I wrote a plan with goals and user scenario.
-The preservation of classical proportions and effortless dynamism, typical of Rolls-Royce, embodied by a contemporary look.
-Clean, modern surfacing -the skin of the car – and pure graphics – grille, headlights, windows and other contrasting surfaces – distilled from the conceptual and visual inspiration: architectural deconstructivism – a development of postmodern architecture marked by fragmentation, unpredictability and manipulating the surface of the structure. Deconstruction is a relevant choice since Rolls-Royce’s aesthetics have a very architectural character and because it conceptually suits the new way of thinking that applies to the brand in my project.
Rolls-Royce owners, HNWI, travel a lot. They simultaneously live in Paris, Shanghai and London. They have their favourite shoes, watches and clothes in every residence and therefore traveling light. But there is something that cannot be duplicated. Something so exclusive and sophisticated that there is only one. Their pedigree pal. Many Rolls-Royce owners are also dog owners. How to make the trip from the Riviera to London with your beloved pet?
This car should focus on the privilege of stylish traveling with two – a pure, intimate two-seater – combined with the possibility of transport of the quadruped friends. Good interaction, comfort and safe traveling for all passengers is key.
For this user scenario, the Rolls-Royce portfolio needs to be expanded with a new car typology. In order to make an appropriate choice, I researched the Rolls-Royce history and found the Shooting Brake. These vehicles were originally built by coach makers to transport shooting parties, hence the name, with their equipment – including dogs.
This is Shooting Brake
The two-tone character has been translated into the glass fuselage which is visually floating – deconstructed – and protects its valued passengers with care. The glass inner-body wafts inside the contrasting, protective outer-body, the two do not touch each other. A radical new approach to the two-tone concept.
The passenger compartment flows seamlessly into the bonnet and grille crown, which proudly carries the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy. The new interpretation of the iconic grille, now with deconstructed and floating blades enclosed by the frame, makes that Shooting Brake remains unmistakably a Rolls-Royce, but in a more contemporary way. The deconstructed approach to the grille design offers endless possibilities for the magic of the brands’ Bespoke department where customers can customize their car to their own taste.
Shooting Brake is strong, assertive and dramatic with a modern edge. Elegance with Rolls-Royce proportions. Its length is highlighted by the strong architectural light catcher, hard and defined, which passes over the side of the vehicle. The high beltline, where glass and body come together, makes the character and stance of Shooting Brake strong.
This design does not give in to the now fashionable rising beltline, the so called ‘wedge’, which creates a dynamic look and a forward motion in the design. Shooting Brake does exactly the opposite, fashion is something too fleeting and temporary for the brand. The gently downwards accelerating beltline is a strong link with the history of Rolls-Royce.
The broad shoulder emphasizes strength and solidity. In front of the car she runs inwards and downwards towards the grille, creating a subtle, intelligent focus at the headlights – the eyes of every car. While the shoulder runs backwards its direction changes, all without the surface turning convex or losing tension, so at the rear the shoulder is sloping to the outside of the car; a hint to the soft shoulders on Rolls-Royces from the 60’s.
The stance, determined by the body-to-wheel ratio (for Rolls-Royce the height of the vehicle has always been two wheels) and the general vehicle-ground relationship makes Shooting Brake to a Rolls-Royce with a certain attitude. The spokes of the wheels are facing inwards, making the stance stronger, more muscular, square and even a bit sporty. The wheels fill the wheel arches well and the substantial diameter causes a confident feel of stability. The forwards placement of the front wheels in the nose is a link to the oldest Rolls-Royce, it emphasizes the long hood.
The flared arches are crucial to provide the simple sides with enough life and power and capture the right balance between architecture and automotive. The short overhang in front of the front wheels makes the design visually dynamic and the long rear with large overhang over the rear wheels makes the car stretched and thus elegant.
The line underneath the sill of the car cuts the body sharply inwards and makes it visually lighter. In one powerful yet elegant movement it creates the front bumper, the sill, the bottom shut line of the door and makes the overhang at the rear more agile. The wheel arches do not run through to the bottom of the body but are radically cut off by the line, leaving a strong under-cut adding character and length to the design.
At the rear the typical Rolls-Royce tapered stern gives the vehicle balance and reduces visual width. It leads to the opening, which provides access for the pet. It is said that one does not step, but walks into a Rolls-Royce. A jumping dog would detonate that and therefor the rear-body opens gracefully. A theatrical experience and welcoming environment for the dog.
That brings us to the interior, traditionally for Rolls-Royce an elegant sanctuary. These values are retained in this design, but I made some very concentrated changes. The interior echoes the exterior styling theme. The design, with openings and visually floating, deconstructed, elements invites people to take in the unique tactile properties of the materials used and to fully experience the craftsmanship.
The user scenario needed a new layout and new materials. Not the cat- but the dog walk allows the pet to walk forwards, from their dedicated private accommodation in the back of Shooting Brake, to the front of the interior into a compartment between the armrests.
The interior is a warm and welcoming environment with Tweed and leather as main materials.
Lambs Wool Tweed is a completely hand-woven material and made to measure – truly the Rolls-Royce of fabrics. Historically relevant, because fabrics used to be regarded being more luxurious than leather and also Tweed connects seamlessly with the British character of the brand and the Shooting Brake hunting and outdoor living concept. Applied to the dashboard, the carpet and the mobile storage spaces; bags that can be taken out for a walk in the woods or on London’s Kings Road.
Contemporary capturing effortless dynamism, in a more energetic, purposeful way. Shooting Brake is the classic luxury car reimagined, combining the spirit of Rolls-Royce with reinvented DNA.
Deconstructed, short film
Defined by a dreamy, soulful atmosphere the film is, like the Shooting Brake, designed with a deconstructed approach: the storyline is written and edited, the music and sound design cut, and the architecture consistently styled to match the main theme. The final scene is set in a typical rolling English countryside landscape with dry stone walls and chestnut fencing.
Niels van Roij