Bentley design director discusses luxury

Stefan Sielaff Bentley Motors design director meets with Spinach luxury brand content editor Nargess Banks to discuss how the marque views the meaning of luxury now and in the future.

In speculating the future of luxury words like time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skill, memory… come to the foreground. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what do you feel will define true luxury?

Bentley Bentayga

This is a philosophical question. Yes luxury means, amongst other things, time and the freedom to do what you want to do. In regards to car design it means creating something unique for the customer.

So the exterior design has to be clear enough to give the customer a good feeling; the design has to transport this sense of luxury… I would say almost like a gift. This can be achieved through the value of the brand but also through details that show that this isn’t a ‘normal’ product but something expressive, outstanding, even radical.

Bentley Bentayga

Can you explain how you would apply this to your cars?

Interior materials will increasingly play a big role in conveying luxury. This doesn’t mean filling the car with jewellery though. Instead we want to create a wonderful piece of art, and this can be conveyed through the love and attention given by its creators. The customer needs to feel this love. They are, after all, paying for the skills and knowhow of a company like Bentley.

Which brings me to my next question. There are a lot of carmakers claiming to be creating luxury products. How do you see Bentley’s unique position here?

We have the ability to create tailor-made interiors. I see us extending this service in the future to offer small batch, highly individual cars for specific customers. Our clients will want smaller batches of products, limited-edition cars with, say, serial numbers so they become collector’s items.

Most importantly, the products need to be exclusive so our clients feel they belong to a unique club.

Bentley Bentayga interior

How will this fit in with the autonomous, driverless car of the future?

Technology is an enabler for us designers allowing for endless possibilities to create autonomous, stress-free driving. With cars such as the new Bentayga (pictured here), our customers expect a high degree of technology. Yet technology must never overwhelm them – it is there to make driving safer, easier.

We joke that we invented the driverless car, as our cars are mainly chauffeured. For the future I see some kind of avatar, an invisible butler who can organise the customer’s time whilst driving, arranging their meetings, booking restaurants…

Read more about the future of Bentley design here.

NS: Can you explain how you would apply this to your cars? SS: Interior materials will increasingly play a big role in conveying luxury. This doesn’t mean filling the car with jewellery though. Instead we want to create a wonderful piece of art, and this can be conveyed through the love and attention given by its creators. The customer needs to feel this love. They are, after all, paying for the skills and knowhow of a company like Bentley.
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