By on June 30, 2020

Rolls Royce Cullinan

We’ve covered how mainstream automakers rose to the coronavirus challenge ad nauseum, but what about companies whose customers dream of rich mahogany and yachting off Cannes all night?

Well, just like a Silicon Valley tech mogul, Rolls-Royce spent these past few months reflecting, peering deep within its soul, all to learn how to become a better friend to its clients. Apparently, “post-opulence” is now a thing.

Speaking to Autocar, RR’s chief designer, Alex Innes, said the brand’s Bespoke division — tasked with crafting the ultimate expressions of personal luxury — has noticed a change among its customers.

“Not being able to meet clients in person has been challenging, but we’ve worked around it and we’ve continued to be in near-constant dialogue with them,” Innes said.

“The benefit the lockdown has afforded us is the currency of time to contemplate and reflect – and we’ve noticed a similar trend with our clients. They’ve had more time to really think and engage with the coachbuild process. I’ve had lots of video chats with them to obsess over little details.”

Okay, but where does the assertion come from that people with endless money to spend on a tailor-made automobile have altered their exacting tastes?

Innes addresses that:

“There has been a slight change in attitude and behavior, building on a trend we’ve recognized for some time but which has accelerated since the coronavirus. We’ve termed it ‘post-opulence’: clients in the wider luxury sphere are coming to question the substance of things and what is necessary.”

Rolls Royce Cullinan

According to the designer, brash status symbols are out, and thoughtful luxury is in. Guess RR will have to discontinue the Cullinan, then.

“There’s a shifting attitude to cars, which is reflected in a shift to a more minimalist aesthetic,” Innes continued. “Clients don’t want the opulence and ornateness of yesterday: they want a new type of luxury, with more purity. It’s about real attention to detail, towards higher and more exacting standards.”

No, Rolls-Royce hasn’t decided to give Nissan a run for its money at the low end of the market. In this sense, minimalism needn’t mean spartan or plain. And certainly not pedestrian. Perhaps a good American representation of what Innes is angling at is the changeover from the 1960 Continental to the ’61.

As the Bespoke division’s commands come from clients’ wishes, neither it nor Rolls plans to craft such “minimalist” vehicles from the ground up, at the factory. It’s up to buyers to outfit existing vehicles in whatever manner they choose. The car is the canvas, Innes said. Bespoke just adds the paint.

And that’s your PSA on how gauche, ornate, Baroque trappings are falling out of favor at the absolute pinnacle of the new car market. Use that knowledge wisely.

[Image: BMW Group].

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20 Comments on “After the Gold Rush: Rolls-Royce Ready to Embrace Minimalism...”


  • avatar
    lstanley

    “The benefit the lockdown has afforded us is the currency of time to contemplate and reflect – and we’ve noticed a similar trend with our clients. They’ve had more time to really think and engage with the coachbuild process. I’ve had lots of video chats with them to obsess over little details.”

    Rarely have I read a quote that makes me think putting people up against the wall is a good idea.

    Rhetorically speaking, of course.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “which is reflected in a shift to a more minimalist aesthetic”

    I guess someone forgot to tell BMW and Lexus.

    Personally, I would be happy if things started looking more like the early 90s, but I’m guessing this is all just code for “MOAR SCREENS and MOAR BLACK TRIM”.

  • avatar
    ravenuer

    When is the pickup coming?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    Rolls Royce embracing minimalism is akin to Madonna becoming a nun

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    People may be thinking less bling, but the aesthetic may refer to the “canvas”, the general appearance of the car. There’s elegance in simplicity, inside and out.

    A lot of RR customers are older, and may be fatigued by the ever more complex controls and “features”. It may be that ajla’s suggestion of MOAR SCREENS” is just the opposite of what RR customers want.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a more stylish exterior, simpler interior appointments with obviously high quality amterials, and more automatic features that customers don’t have to master, or even think about, is what is desired. They don’t all have, or want to hire drivers, and may want to enjoy the act of driving themselves, without all the high-tech geegaws detracting from the experience.

  • avatar
    stuntmonkey

    Where I’m at RR’s aren’t uncommon, and they are always brand-new models. The people driving them do not have the classic British understated aesthetic of upper-class refinement shall we say…

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    A move to more restrained style works for me – RRs have been too p!mpy for my tastes for quite some time now.

    They could start by immediately banning the silly hoods that are partially stainless steel.

  • avatar
    Greg Hamilton

    Looks like they’re going to poach the interior designer of the Tesla Model 3 and Y. Simpler and more restrained.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I wish I were rich enough to be post-opulent.

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