Rolls-Royce uses bamboo and silk to create its "most opulent" car interior
Geneva Motor Show 2015: British car manufacturer Rolls-Royce worked with a pair of textiles graduates to design a bespoke interior for its Phantom model using silk, cherrywood and bamboo (+ slideshow).
The interior and paintwork for the Phantom Serenity were customised by Rolls-Royce's in-house design team, with the help of two textile design graduates: Cherica Haye from the Royal College of Art and Michelle Lusby from Plymouth University.
The aim of the project was to highlight the brand's capabilities in tailoring vehicles for individual customers.
Haye and Lusby suggested historic Japanese royal robes as a starting point for the design due to their association with status, the high-quality silk they were made from and their frequently vibrant motifs.
Rolls-Royce used smoked cherrywood, silk and white leather to furnish the car's interior, with blossom motifs adding to the vehicle's Asia-influenced theme.
The exterior is finished in a mother-of-pearl paint – the most expensive ever developed by the company.
"Delivering authentic modern luxury, Serenity reintroduces the finest textiles – silk – to create the most opulent interior of any luxury car," said Rolls-Royce in a statement. "This unique design demonstrates the levels of craftsmanship, creativity and attention to detail that Rolls-Royce can offer."
Passenger seats are upholstered in silk and reference modern furniture design, according to the company.
The seats feature a smoked-cherrywood trim, while the rear-centre console is embellished with bamboo.
"The rear compartment of a Phantom is tranquil," said Haye. "This tranquillity made us think of the Oriental tradition where Emperors would take to their private gardens to reflect in solitude under the blossom trees."
"The blossom motif is one that is cherished and has been applied to royal robe design over the centuries, and we felt it was the perfect representation of tranquility and serenity for a modern interior from Rolls-Royce," she added.
Blossom motifs branch across the interior cabin's roofline and are placed on the inside door panels in mother of pearl. The iridescent material was laser-cut into shape and applied to the wood trim by hand.
Unspun silk sourced from Suzhou, China – a city renowned for its imperial embroidery – was hand-dyed by local craftspeople and then transported to one of Britain's oldest mills, in Essex, to be hand-woven into 10 metres of the fabric, enough to furnish the interior.
Once the various colours of the silk were blended, the fabric was transferred to London where Haye and Lusby applied the final touches onto the material.
"From renaissance times to the modern day, eminent people have surrounded themselves with rare fabrics such as silk to signify their power and position in society, whether at home or on the move," explained Rolls-Royce director of design Giles Taylor, speaking at the Geneva Motor Show.
"Having revisited the history of the amazing interiors of the elite Rolls-Royce's of the early 1900s, we felt inspired to share this heritage with our new customers in a very contemporary way," said Taylor.
One-off commissions form a major part of Rolls-Royce's business, with 85 per cent of its cars commissioned with some level of bespoke content.
The Geneva Motor Show opens to the public tomorrow and continues until 15 March.