Bentley Motors design director discusses modern luxury
Stefan Sielaff is the creative director at Bentley Motors. Here he speaks with journalist and Spinach content editor Nargess Banks to discuss his concept for luxury now and in the future.
In speculating the future of luxury words like time, authenticity, legacy, access, resource, journey, skill, memory… come to the foreground. And going forward, when the car becomes essentially a high-tech gadget in the age of autonomous driving, what do you feel will define true luxury?
This is a philosophical question. Yes, luxury means, amongst other things, time and the freedom to do what you want to do. In regards to car design, it means creating something unique for the customer.
So the exterior design has to be clear enough to give the customer a good feeling; the design has to transport this sense of luxury… I would say almost like a gift. This can be achieved through the value of the brand but also through details that show that this isn’t a ‘normal’ product but something expressive, outstanding, even radical.
Can you explain how you would apply this to your cars?
Interior materials will increasingly play a big role in conveying luxury. This doesn’t mean filling the car with jewellery though. Instead, we want to create a wonderful piece of art, and this can be conveyed through the love and attention given by its creators. The customer needs to feel this love. They are, after all, paying for the skills and know-how of a company like Bentley.
Which brings me to my next question. There are a lot of carmakers claiming to be creating luxury products. How do you see Bentley’s unique position here?
We have the ability to create tailor-made interiors. I see us extending this service in the future to offer small-batch, highly individual cars for specific customers. Our clients will want smaller batches of products, limited-edition cars with, say, serial numbers so they become collector’s items.
Most importantly, the products need to be exclusive so our clients feel they belong to a unique club.
How will this fit in with the autonomous, driverless car of the future?
Technology is an enabler for us designers allowing for endless possibilities to create autonomous, stress-free driving. With cars such as the new Bentayga (pictured here), our customers expect a high degree of technology. Yet technology must never overwhelm them – it is there to make driving safer, easier.
We joke that we invented the driverless car, as our cars are mainly chauffeured. For the future, I see some kind of avatar, an invisible butler who can organise the customer’s time whilst driving, arranging their meetings, booking restaurants…
Image © Bentley Motors
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