Bentley is marking the 70th anniversary of its own Design department in Crewe, England.
When it was founded in 1951, the department was responsible for communicating ideas and design proposals, and sharing their vision with the other areas of the business.
Back then, design sketches were captured as hand-painted watercolour artworks. Obviously, there was no “undo” or “Ctrl Z” if there was a mistake.
These renders were then reproduced as full-size technical drawings that depicted the side, front, rear, plan elevations and sectional views. They helped model makers form the new car.
To visualise the drawings, model makers covered a metal framework with a malleable material, which was then shaped to describe the form of the new vehicle. Measurements would be taken and cross-referenced, too.
With today’s technology, measuring arms and scanning equipment result in quick assessment of three-dimensional models, with accuracy down to hundredths of a millimetre.
The first Crewe-designed Bentley was the iconic R-Type Continental in 1951.
VIRTUAL REALITY AND BEYOND LUXURY CARS
Design today is highly dependant on computers, with designers now sketching in virtual worlds that can be experienced through screens, headsets and augmented reality.
The digital shift has paid dividends, especially in the midst of current conditions. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, design-related work such as reviews and detail assessments could continue, even if physical meetings were impossible due to travel restrictions.
However, even with modern tools and techniques, once a design is finalised, a full-size model is still constructed. This helps ensure that no details are missed before production begins.
Bentley says design will be a “key aspect for customers more ever than before” when it comes to electric vehicles, due to the similarity of electric motors and their related components. The company also sees design becoming intertwined with clients’ lifestyles as well.
Bentley’s design team collaborates with other luxury manufacturers to bring its design language to areas beyond luxury vehicles.
Upholstering and finishing car interiors is second-nature to Bentley. The carmaker caters to clients who want the same feel in their homes with Bentley Home furniture, which can also be tailored to meet a customer’s preferences.
Furniture can be customised in the finishes that make Bentley unique, using leathers and wood veneers. Like the cars, each piece is hand-finished.