It’s hard to argue that the new Rolls-Royce Spectre isn’t modern looking. But Rolls-Royce puts a huge value on keeping things tied to their historical roots. Walking the line between incremental style updates that feel a little too familiar – occasionally valid Porsche criticism – and radical modernization – seen in some BMW products – is tough. But the Spectre is supremely handsome and manages to perform this balancing act with aplomb. Anders Warming, Director of Design at Rolls-Royce, shares some of the vision behind Spectre.
Storytelling of Rolls-Royce
“When we design a Rolls Royce, one of the things that I always come back to as a designer and I love absolutely is the storytelling of a Rolls Royce,” Anders begins. “Everything you touch, everything you feel, has some sort of little angle and a background.” He brings up the starlight headliner – now a trademark of the brand – and how it does a wonderful job continuing the “storytelling” of the brand.
The small details, like the self-righting center caps and umbrella, are also important to Anders. Small details like this impact the brand’s perception and add to the storytelling. Anders explains. “The umbrella is often something that people would not even consider to be a luxury item as such. But it is really an emotionally charged topic. People pull out the umbrella and say ‘Rolls Royce even thought of this,’ which is part of the story.”
Three Influences of Rolls-Royce Design
When designing the Spectre and other Rolls-Royce models, the team focuses on three tenants. The first is – as mentioned – the storytelling aspect of the brand. The second is the artisan process in which the vehicle is manufactured and developed. Anders elaborates, “We are not just creating an object, in my view that is of beauty, but it’s also that of the story of how has it been made.” Thirdly and “most inspiring” (according to Anders) is a direct and open dialog with their customer base. “Our patrons will tell us exactly how they feel and what they’re interested in as far as design. The story goes that is, in my experience, also unique in the world of design.”
Rolls-Royce Spectre’s Brand Heritage
Iconic Rolls-Royce details area all over the Spectre – but you have to look carefully. Vertical lines and upright to flowing design cues are prominent on Rolls-Royce vehicles from the pre-war, to the Silver Cloud, and now today’s Spectre. The front end of the Spectre is a veritable gold mine of heritage, sporting the Pantheon grille, Spirit of Ecstasy, and the badge of honor. “Sheer surfaces,” as Anders calls them, in other areas of the automobile strive to create a sense of calm. Anders says this contrasts with the most modern design trends, with “a lot of shapes and a lot of busyness.”
The Biggest Hurdle When Designing Spectre
Anders says the most difficult part about designing Spectre was creating the single hull line – a single, unbroken line that runs from the Pantheon grille to the rear of the vehicle. “Why is this so difficult? Because, as you can imagine, we’re dealing with a lot of influences,” he starts. “Aerodynamics, we’re dealing with hardpoints, we’re dealing with a pedestrian protection, all these topics basically dictate where shapes need to go sometimes.” The term (predictably) stems from Rolls-Royce’s maritime ties and references a sailboat.
Anders presents a prime example of why connecting with their customer base is so important to the brand. This single hull line sets up what he refers to as the art of two-tone. Two-tone paint schemes are a bit of a staple of the brand, and this single, unbroken line allows the special paint to effortlessly pop. “When you see it in two-tone, you realize that these lines have been set up to create the option for the clients to create two-tone cars.”
“We’re very careful that everything we do has a logic or graphic logic. Why? Because at Rolls Royce, we pride ourselves really with the opportunity to bespoke our cars to the utmost degree and specific goals. Our clients like to interact with us.” All this is a long-winded way to introduce the ability to configure the graphics on the user interface. Of course, this is alongside the already long list of customizability options regularly offered. It allows clients to customize the analog and digital aspects of their Rolls-Royce, a symbiosis that BMW and Rolls-Royce reps have repeatedly emphasized.
From engineering to design, the Spectre certainly has people at Rolls-Royce excited. And they should be – it is, after all, the world’s first ultra-luxury electric super coupe. Kudos to Anders Warming and his team for designing a truly modern luxury icon.