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 collaboration between Bentley and the RCA was an academic exercise, intended to generate discussion around the topic of the future of luxury mobility. The designs and models shown are not future Bentley products or concepts, and do not represent the future design direction of the company.
The students were challenged to imagine how – in an increasingly virtual and digital world – elements of physical materiality, technology and craftsmanship can be curated to create a truly luxurious Grand Touring experience.
Soundscapes, luxury stratospheric transportation and sophisticated driverless elegance all feature in the diverse design visions, which were created in response to the question: “What will British luxury mean in 2050?”
From the 24 student responses 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. These academic outcomes considered the impacts of new technologies and craftsmanship on personal transport, and interrogated what luxury might mean in an autonomous and increasingly sustainable world.
‘Luxury Soundscapes’ by Irene Chiu 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.
‘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. Moreover, she suggests true luxury in the future will be the choice to occasionally drive yourself in an internal combustion vehicle, 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.
‘Stratospheric Grand Touring’ by Jack Watson took inspiration from Bentley’s near-100-year history of groundbreaking innovation for his design study. His vision of future luxury imagines a scenario where international business travel will no longer restrict where people are able to live, as sustainable, luxury stratospheric Grand Touring will be a reality.
‘Elegant Autonomy’ by Enuji Choi looked at the importance of elegance and British etiquette in a future with driverless vehicles built for smart cities. The project 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.