Car brands get creative in the time of the coronavirus

Rolls-Royce Goodwood Apiary honey-making project

A 250,000-strong workforce of English honeybees is making a very special sweet nectar at the Home of Rolls-Royce. The bees forage on the half-a-million trees, shrubs, and wildflowers on the abundant West Sussex landscape. Many are feasting on the sedum plants growing on Nicholas Grimshaw’s sustainable plant’s ‘living roof’. Some are sneaking beyond the Rolls-Royce grounds to enjoy the wild landscape of the surrounding Goodwood Estate.

Rolls-Royce Goodwood Apiary honey-making project

The Rolls-Royce Goodwood Apiary project is in direct response to the serious threat facing the honeybee population. The honey is being produced in six traditional wooden beehives here – each featuring a stainless-steel nameplate handcrafted at the Rolls-Royce bespoke workshop, where designers and artisans typically work with discerning clients to make their motor cars as personal and unique as possible. Needless to say, this being the maker of the very ultimate in luxurious road transport, the Rolls-Royce honey is pretty special with names that reference the motor cars – Phantom, Wraith, Ghost, Dawn, Cullinan – and a final Spirit of Ecstasy to honour the brand’s mascot.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Rose

Like many car brands, Rolls-Royce is having to be a touch creative in the time of the coronavirus. With manufacturing halted for most of the spring due to the global coronavirus pandemic lockdown, many car companies are involved in one way or another with the advancement and production of urgent medical aid and personal protection equipment for those treating Covid-19 patients (see our earlier report here). Some companies are also using the occasion to boost internal morale and keep customers engaged with creative and cultural programmes that also highlight their brand identities.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom Rose inspires bespoke design ideas at the car company such as this design for the Phantom Gallery

Alongside the honey-making initiative, Rolls-Royce is also cultivating a very unique rose. The Phantom Rose, named after the brand’s pinnacle model, has a unique perfume; the creamy-white flower boasts a full bloom of 50 petals. It took the specialist rose breeder, Philip Harkness of Harkness Roses, whose family have been breeding roses since 1879, eight years to cultivate this rose variety. Now, the Phantom Rose is bred solely in the courtyard here, in beds fringed with lavenders that run alongside the ponds and are in the direct view of the Rolls-Royce floor-to-ceiling glass wall plant to provide daily inspiration for the design and craft team.

Bentley Honey

Continuing the honey theme, Bentley Motors appears to also be supporting the honeybee community. Some 120,000 honeybees have now joined a further 180,000 Apis Melliferas at the carmaker’s facility in Crewe in time for World Bee Day (20 May). Bentley’s five beehives sit on the edge of the marque’s headquarters benefiting from the wildflowers of the surrounding Cheshire countryside and are expected to produce 200 jars of honey by the end of the harvest season.

Lexus origami cat competition is inspired by takumi artists

Meanwhile, Lexus has been running educational programmes which directly reference the brand’s Japanese heritage. The Takumi is a group of dedicated artisans who work on the intricate paintwork and interior craftwork on the more high-end cars. Qualifying as a Takumi specialist involves at least a quarter of a century of experience while these craftspeople are assessed in a number of ways, including in the art of origami. One task involves folding an origami cat using their non-dominant hand in under 90 seconds. The Lexus origami challenge reaches out to the wider public – the prize for the creator of the best origami cat will be given the pinnacle Lexus LC 500h for a week to enjoy – post lockdown.

Lexus UX SUV Tattoo car, by London tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe

Also, in a celebration of Japanese artistry, is the Lexus UX SUV Tattoo car. The first of its kind, it is the work of the London tattoo artists Claudia De Sabe and her husband Yutaro of Red Point Tattoo. In a project that took around six months to complete, the duo used a pure white car as their canvas, swapping the fine tattooing needle with a Dremel drill to be able to achieve the intricate, sweeping design. They applied five litres of car paint by hand to bring out the details and used gold leaf to create highlights and give the design a three-dimensional feel. Finally, the vehicle was given a protective lacquer coating to shield the artwork. Following the reveal, Lexus invited the wider public to download a template and create their own designs for a tattooed car. The selected artwork will adorn another Lexus UX using a vinyl wrap.

Images: Goodwood Apiary © Rolls-Royce, origami car competition and Claudia De Sabe tattooing the UX © Lexus

Lexus UX SUV Tattoo car, by London tattoo artist Claudia De Sabe
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