nobody needs a rolls-royce but everyone wants one is a key phrase which highlights the british brand’s ambition and attitude. since their foundation in 1904, their philosophy has always been that ‘when it doesn’t exist, design it.‘ by following this ethos, over a century the car manufacturer has become the synonym for the best, as, if you want the highest quality, its the rolls-royce of the choice. to showcase this, their new ‘phantom’, which was unveiled in july 2017, takes bespoke design to even grander heights. with an almost unimaginably all-encompassing design, the eigth edition of the car is most significant as the first automobile to feature pieces of art inside its very interior. the space on the fascia, known as ‘the gallery’, will be able to exhibit an artwork of one of seven selected artists: thorsten franck, nymphenburg, helen amy murray, based upon, richard fox, nature squared, and liang yuanwei, 


to truly get an understanding of the complete uniqueness of the new ‘phantom’ and ‘the gallery’ space, designboom visited the home of rolls-royce in sussex, UK, and based upon’s studio in london.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
all images courtesy of rolls-royce



since the rolls-royce ‘phantom’ was first conceived back in 1925, the car has been as iconic, powerful and influential as those who own them. the eighth generation vehicle is no different in that sense, but delivers its excellence in even more abundance and was hailed as ‘the way forward for the global luxury automobile industry’ by designboom, upon its release. however, it is only by seeing the rare car in person, especially as it is being individually designed and hand-crafted, that you truly realize the significance of its bespoke design.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
the car’s side profile showcases its sense of grandeur



first of all, it is composed of a completely new aluminum architecture, which has enabled the exterior to be more paired back than the design of old, where its body lines flow together more so than ever before. starting at the leading edge of the fenders, the shoulder line distinctively tapers towards the rear into an elegance of nothingness. this even further exaggerates the 5.7 meter-length of the car and its eye-catching presence, especially from its side view.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
its theater-like interior focuses passengers’ attention to ‘the gallery’ space on the fascia



the coach doors welcome passengers to an atmosphere of complete exclusive luxury, where rolls-royce bespoke design team truly excels beyond belief. a wealth of materials, custom colors, intricately fabricated details, expensive accessories and even the hand-stitched light constellation on the interior roof can be tailored to choice. this is all within a configuration comparable to a theater as it focuses attention towards the front; the driver, the wide windscreen and of course, the spirit of ecstasy. it is towards the front of the interior where for the first time in a car, pieces of art can be curated and exhibited.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
‘a moment in time’ by based upon



as the ‘phantom’ is a celebration of extreme luxury, a mirror of personality and an object of desire that transcends materiality, the rolls-royce design team realized that their clients wanted to take these elements further and branch even more towards the sense of art. as well, it is understandable that many of the marque’s patrons are already increasingly collectors of fine and contemporary art. this was how the idea of ‘the gallery’ was first born, but to deliver it, the artwork itself not only had to be selected but also ensured to meet the high standards of rolls-royce and the quality tests of automotive engineering.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
the artwork enhances aluminum and the artists’  tramazite material



their bespoke design team, with alex innes as creative lead designer, selected seven very different artists, all of whom had individual yet still relatable visions of the brand. from the quintessential, porcelain english rose bred by porzellan manufaktur nymphenburg; the sculptural fabric of helen amy murray, who was influenced by charles sykes’ original drawings of the spirit of ecstasy; and the astrology configuration of precious metals and stones by richard fox to the autumnal english countryside painting from liang yuanwei; nature squared’s intricate artisanal craft work of feathers – the most uncommon material to be seen in a car; and the golden interpretation of a patron’s DNA by thorsten franck. the diverse selection eclipses fashion and manners, instead approaching the pieces as translations of their individual craft. the design team’s curation was to ensure the galleries meet a global appetite, where specific styles might cause less initial interest overall.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
the piece looks as though affected by wind, even when milled from solid metal



in their interpretation of the spirit of ecstasy, east london-based collective based upon set about recreating the ephemeral moment of time as a rolls-royce passes by. to do this, they imagined as if the iconic sculpture’s shawl was allowed to drape over the car at high speed. they recreated this by digitally analyzing and remodelling a swath of silk’s movement through water. the data was then remastered in clay before being fabricated from solid aluminum.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
its hand-polished finish accentuates the flowing form



to fit the brief’s specific weight requirement, the billet of aluminum was milled to the nano meter, before being carefully polished by hand in order to accentuate the curved and fabric-like form. the metal is placed upon a bed of the practice’s renown tramazite material, which adds an effect of depth as well as an allure of its own astrology. the resulting item, much like the car itself, appears so personal that it becomes treasured. as the vehicle drives, you can imagine the artwork capturing unique moments of reflection as if time stands still.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
inspiration came from trying to capture the spirit of ecstasy’s shawl moving in the wind



‘the gallery’, which ever piece is chosen or even commissioned, offers the value of relief within the car, specifically the control panel. we can already imagine patrons commissioning some of the biggest names in art to create bespoke pieces. with this initiative, the latest feature of the ‘phantom’ once again takes their bespoke design and capabilities to unparalleled levels of uniqueness. it truly marks another exciting and significant new chapter for the brand.

understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
the tramazite material creates a base of magic and mystery


understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
‘a moment in time’ was created at based upon’s studio and factory in east london


understanding new heights of uniqueness with the rolls-royce phantom
the aluminum was milled to the nano meter in order to meet the brief’s strict weight specifications