What is luxury? Rolls-Royce design director discusses

The concept of luxury has evolved to include a much more complex set of values. Time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skills and memory – these are just some of the concepts joining the more classic terms associated with luxury. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what will define true luxury?

In the fourth of our interviews with some of the leading creatives, Giles Taylor, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars design director offers his thoughts on the subject

Design Talks: How would you define modern luxury?

Giles Taylor. The subject is very topical, especially for us. Time, for instance, is of growing importance with the high net worth clients, and we are assessing how Rolls-Royce fits into this. For us it is more about the car journey, where we create a world that revolves a little slower, a world that is more of a sanctuary. It has to be about offering splendid isolation

However, it would never be [applied] in a backward way. Rolls-Royce is very much about offering absolute connectivity, where everything is at your fingertips. The car will almost act like the butler who is standing outside the door at 4pm knowing his master would like his Earl Grey at that time. We have to offer the best technology, but executed in a way that is advanced. The technology needs to amplify this.

DT. How do you see this being unique to the marque?

GT. For Rolls-Royce design means being timeless, classic, authentic. When a client sits inside one of our cars they could be six or sixty-five – that’s how familiar the surrounding should be. It is about time autonomy. The interior has to be effortless, so the occupants can navigate the technology on-board whilst carrying on with their businesses. The car needs to offer this sanctuary… offer a sense of escapism.

DT. It could be argued that Rolls-Royce cars have always been driverless, given that they are predominantly chauffeured. Yet how do you see the future of luxury in the context of autonomous driving?

GT. The autonomous car of the future will mean creating space inside the vehicle… and we need to create more space for a more luxurious interior. This means de-cluttering the interior, taking out the extra furniture so you can appreciate the beautifully crafted mahogany wooden panel on the dashboard, for instance, or the exquisite hand stitching on the leather chairs, and the most beautiful technological clock…

DT. How do you envisage the future?

GT. The future is extremely modern for us with craft solutions are at the core.

The Rolls-Royce DNA is about modernity. If you look back at our early Phantoms, for instance, there is a sense of purity in the design, of almost austerity. There is not a lot going on but clean shapes and incredible craftsmanship and execution. Modernity, high tech is in our DNA.

Nargess Banks

Read our previous interview on the subject of modern luxury and car design with Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff, Jaguar’s creative lead Ian Callum, and Mecedes-Benz’s Gorden Wagener here.

Read our previous reports on Rolls-Royce design here.

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