October 15, 2016

Rolls-Royce Dawn Awakens Auto Design

Rolls-Royce’s cofounder Sir Henry Royce famously said, “Take the best that exists and make it better. When it does not exist, design it.” Extending that legacy is the interiors team behind the British automaker’s stunning new drophead Dawn.

Its four separate bucket seats are ensconced in wood and leather from the driver’s side, around the rear seats, and back up to the passenger side, creating a slingshot effect. Those seats are then intersected by a full-length center console book-matched to chevron-pattern wood trays in the rear. “The high waistline of the exterior provided an excellent opportunity to accentuate the cosseting effect for the passengers in the rear compartment,” designer Alex Innes says.

The Dawn’s audio components make up what is perhaps the most exhaustively designed automotive hi-fi system ever developed: 16 individually-tuned speakers, with both theater and studio settings, combine with a highly sensitive microphone that constantly monitors ambient exterior noise to subtly adjust the volume and tone settings, making it equally effective with the cloth roof open or closed. Instrument dials include applied polished metal chaplets and matte chrome centers—just like a handmade wristwatch.

The Dawn was also developed to take full advantage of Rolls-Royce’s legendary bespoke shop, particularly its artful use of leather—which it only sources from bulls raised on open ranges at high altitudes to eliminate marks from insects or barbed wire—and impeccable woodwork. A striking example of this customization recently debuted at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach, California, the premiere U.S. auto showcase, in the form of the Nautical Dawn, a stunning one-off by interior design firm Barclay Butera. Its beachy theme—including a custom hand-wrapped navy steering wheel and a teak deck—was specifically designed to complement the oceanside residence of a South Florida client.

The only item left to add is the automaker’s prized bespoke picnic basket. Taking over 500 hours to create, the hamper is forged from a combination of saddle leather, oiled teak, and polished aluminum. Folding out its piano-black tables reveal crystal wine glasses and decanters handmade by the Ajka Crystal factory, along with Wedgwood porcelain plates. “The materials we use in every Rolls-Royce Motor car are the most luxurious in the world,” Innes concludes. “The design challenge is to weave them together in a subliminal manner—we make every effort to avoid complicating the environment visually. We are not a brand prone to revolution.”

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