At Rolls-Royce, nothing nearly right is good enough
He’s only 25, yet has achieved much more than most of his peers. Meet Michael Bryden, a bespoke designer of Rolls-Royce Motors. Recently in Singapore to present his Rolls-Royce SG50 design, he provided insight into how Rolls-Royce continues to go against the grain and remain a bespoke offering.
“Sometimes, we do have to push it back, but we offer solutions. For example, if one customer tells us that they’ve seen another car, and would like the exact coat of paint, we won’t do it. We’ve thousands of paint colours, and many are customised specially for one customer (the customer even gets to name the paint colour). We’ll speak to the customer, and come up with a few ideas, perhaps of a similar shade, but it’ll never be exact. We always let customers have a say, so that they can feel that they’re part of the experience. This also gives both customers and ourselves creative independence at the same time.”
“The bespoke design team is located in a special design studio in Goodwood, England. There are 14 of us, and we work exclusively on bespoke cars. We sit down with customers in Goodwood and understand their requirements. During their trip to our office, customers are brought on a tour, and get a chance to look at the extent of our craftsmanship. This gives them a rough idea of what’s to come shortly.
Sometimes, we even fly out to meet them. After all, a bulk of our customers are entrepreneurs and businessmen, and not all have have the luxury of time to visit Goodwood.”
Creating ‘authentic luxury’
“We create everything by hand. The leathers are stitched together by hand. We have a coach-liner painter who paints by hand; our marquetry is all placed by hand. Customers get to witness this if they wish. They get to see the sheer amount of detail that goes into every part of their Rolls-Royce. To me, that’s authentic luxury.”
When design clashes with aesthetics
“One example is our Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music. We tried to keep the dynamic nature of the interior, given how the Wraith was designed to be more dynamic than the Phantom and Ghost.
During the design process, the sound engineer and interior designer worked side by side to ensure that the sound system truly harmonised with the interior. Somewhere down the line, the interior designer decided to change the design of a knob on the door. The sound engineer was so upset, as he had to go back and redo some work to ensure optimal sound quality in the car. It’s true, the sound system would have been ‘OK’ with the newer knob, and the customer may have thought it was perfect, but it wasn’t perfect to the sound engineer.”
Getting it right
“Nothing ‘nearly right’ is good enough. If something is ‘nearly right’, it isn’t.”