Bentley has collaborated with design students from the Royal College of Art’s (RCA) Intelligent Mobility programme to envisage the future of British luxury.
The students were challenged to imagine how – in what is expected to become an increasingly virtual and digital world – elements of physical materiality, technology and craftsmanship can be merged “to create a truly luxurious Grand Touring experience.”
“Bentley has always been at the forefront of automotive luxury, and with this collaboration we asked millennial students for their vision of the future,” explains Bentley’s design boss Stefan Sielaff, who also happens to be an alumnus of the RCA’s Automotive Design programme.
“We wanted ideas and concepts that could potentially lead us in new and interesting directions, using the perspective of these digital natives – from all over the world – to see things differently. These second-year students are the ones who will be designing the cars of the future – the taste makers in training, if you will. That’s why the results of the challenge are so exciting.”
“How do you make tomorrow’s personal journey an emotional experience, as evolving culture, disruptive technology and personal desires change tomorrow’s car? Our students tackled that question when Bentley asked them to look at automotive luxury over the next 30 years,” adds Chris Thorpe, a senior tutor on the Intelligent Mobility course at the RCA.
From the 24 student responses subsequently submitted, four were identified as being particularly thought provoking by RCA lecturers and the Bentley design team, who also offered guidance and tutelage throughout the curriculum project.
From Soundscapes to the Stratosphere – The Student Responses
1. ‘Material Humanity’ by Kate NamGoong identified “the unexpected and the emotional” as qualities that will continue to be appreciated by luxury car customers in 2050. The designer suggests true luxury in the future will be the choice to occasionally drive yourself in a petrol-engined car, when the rest of the world is fully autonomous and electric. With traditional engines becoming such a rarity, Kate imagines that people will want to see the mechanical workings – just as they do with luxurious mechanical watches today.
2. ‘Stratospheric Grand Touring’ by Jack Watson imagines a scenario where international business travel will no longer restrict where people live as luxury air transport will be provided through electric vertical take-off and landing (EVTOL) technology.
3. ‘Elegant Autonomy’ by Enuji Choi focuses on the etiquette of ingress and egress, and how it has evolved over time – from horse-drawn carriages to modern-day cars – and the way it will continue to evolve in an autonomous world.
4. ‘Luxury Soundscapes’ by Irene Chiu’s considered the role of sound in future luxury mobility, with a vehicle that can selectively filter undesirable and stressful noises while at the same time allowing pleasurable bioacoustics to remain. She suggests that soundscape will be a transformative approach to in-cabin acoustics in autonomous vehicles, demonstrating how it could be influential in passengers’ health, well-being and travel experiences.