Design

Harmony of Polarities

Design principles offer guidance and a sense of direction. The principles that Bentley applies to its brand design are exemplified, in distilled form, in the new Batur coupe – and in projects that have nothing to do with the automotive world. That’s because Bentley has long been a holistic brand for luxury design – which has made it even more important to follow a rigorous and consistent styling philosophy

  • Text
    Patricia Jell
  • Photos
    Bentley

Compromise? Not part of Bentley’s vocabulary. The luxury cars built in Crewe draw on the strengths of a British bespoke suit: individually tailored to the customer’s personal desires so that everything fits perfectly. Every detail is an expression of traditional craftsmanship. Designed from top to bottom. There are no compromises in this concept. “When we spoke to our customers and asked them what they wanted, they said: everything. And we thought: Great! Because we can do that. A car for four people that can go 200 miles per hour, drive in the mountains, in high-temperature deserts, in the snow. Everything,” says Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark. “With a Bentley, you can customize the car to fit you exactly the way you want.”

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Bentley design is like art: all the elements have to be perfectly balanced, so you constantly discover new elements that you never saw before, says CEO Adrian Hallmark.

How does a brand with such broad aspirations define successful design? “Good design continues to evolve because you see different things,” says Hallmark. “It’s like art. All the elements have to be perfectly balanced, so you constantly discover new elements that you never saw before. That’s what makes design durable and involving for a customer.”

Durable . . . that certainly is an apt description of Bentley’s cars – and of the allure they have had ever since the brand’s founding in 1919. Perhaps because it’s impossible to sum up the essence of a Bentley in simple terms. “Bentley is not some pompous, shiny, aesthetic luxury statement for the sake of luxury. It’s a brutal flying machine wrapped in an elegant exterior. This polarity, if you like, is the Bentley brand proposition,” as Hallmark explains.

Bentley calls this “Harmony of Polarities”. A car you can race on the track, but which you can also take on a long journey with all the luxury and comfort you deserve, as Christian Schreiber, Head of Design Operations at Bentley, puts it. The design, he says, reflects this quality with a powerful, inspiring and harmonious styling that is one of the key pillars of the brand. “Design creates an emotional bond with the customer. When you establish a connection like that, it creates stories in the mind, and then you survive the test of time. If design fails to evoke this sort of emotion, then it has missed its mark.”

The new Batur coupe is an indication of how the brand intends to tell its story in the future. The latest project from Bentley’s in-house bespoke division Mulliner is limited to a production run of just eighteen cars – all of which have already been reserved.

For the starting price of £1.65 million, buyers will be rewarded with the most powerful Bentley in history, driven by an evolution of ­Bentley’s legendary W12 engine that now generates 1,000 Nm of torque and 740 hp.

Beyond these metrics, the Batur is one thing above all: a preview of Bentley’s new design language, which will define the image of the manufacturer’s future range of battery-powered electric vehicles while reinterpreting the brand’s classic design features. Finally, with its Beyond100 strategy and the Brand Manifesto published in 2020, the company declared its intention to become the world’s most sustainable luxury automotive brand. The first electric ­Bentley is to be launched in 2026.

So what will Bentley’s design direction for its electrified product range look like? “In the Batur, we see one of our exterior design principles, known as ‘upright elegance’, expressed in the redesigned upright grille, which is in perfect harmony with the overall facial expression,” explains Schreiber. “We decided to use the two-eye face instead of the familiar four eyes, resulting in a clearer expression with more space and balance at the front end.”

The shape of the Batur resembles an elegantly crouching, powerful animal. This “resting beast stance” is achieved by placing mass over the rear wheels. “The car isn’t in attack mode, but you can see its power,” says Schreiber. Another distinctive feature is the “endless bonnet”, with a seemingly infinite line that stretches from the hood along the whole length of the car. “Luxury cars traditionally have very large engines and long hoods, and we asked ourselves how we could transfer that into the future. Our answer is a line that runs from the bonnet up front all the way back to the C-pillar, giving the car an extremely elongated appearance. The Batur is the first car to incorporate this design feature, though we will be applying some of these principles to the new version of the Continental GT as well,” says Schreiber.

The interior is dominated by what Bentley calls “bold gravitas” – open the door on the Batur and you are greeted by large surfaces that convey a sense of weight and presence. Sit down and a special “wing gesture” sets in – as closing the door creates the sensation of a large, powerful wing gently wrapping itself around your body. This focus on extraordinary details promises an experience of craftsmanship and first-class materials in every respect.

The focus on extraordinary details promises an experience of craftsmanship and first-class materials in every respect.

“It’s important to us that these materials not only look fantastic but are also sustainable,” Schreiber says. That includes Italian leather which has been tanned using an environmentally friendly process as well as leather sourced from Scotland, which translates to shorter distances and fewer emissions during transport. Husks left over from coffee production, pressed into solid elements, are used in the door panels, the carpets are crafted from recycled yarn – something that has never been seen before in a Bentley – and the gold used in the control dials and buttons in the interior are made from recycled jewelry ground into a fine powder, which eliminates the environmental impact that usually accompanies the mining of precious metals.

Of course, digital technologies have also found their way into the classically stylish interior. The important thing, says Schreiber, is to design their operation to be explicitly luxurious and to orchestrate all the elements in a clever way to ensure an authentic Bentley experience. “It’s like a luxury hotel. You walk in and you don’t ask yourself why it’s so good. You just know it feels good and luxurious. That’s what a Bentley has to be. With Bentley, you don’t ask questions. You simply notice that it’s luxury.”

That also includes the possibility of personalization. Bentley offers fourty-six billion total customization options in its models. This focus on the individual fits into the brand’s understanding of luxury. “After all, luxury is always about creating a world from things that convey a certain status. It’s like that with watches or clothes or a car: you create a world around you that fits your personality and your values. With a Bentley, it’s the message that you’re successful and that you can afford that level of quality,” says Hallmark. And that goes for more than just the car.

Only logical, then, that Bentley sees itself more as a holistic design brand than as a pure automotive brand. At the 2023 Milan Design Week, for example, Bentley unveiled its new Home Collection, which transfers the brand’s design values to the home with furnishings such as tables, beds, sofas and armchairs: “Our Home Collection offers luxury and sustainability with the same confident and elegant design language that our cars are known for,” as Schreiber says.

Bentley Home features collaborations with leading designers such as Federico Peri, Riccardo Cavaciocchi and Carlo Colombo, with new materials chosen in the interest of sustainability. Cavaciocchi, for example, the founder of Paper Factor, created a table for Bentley using his new paper marble. The material resembles marble in look and feel but is made from raw paper and natural pigments.


Bentley Residences Miami goes one step further. The sixty-one-floor building will feature 216 luxury residences, all with unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and the waterways surrounding Sunny Isles Beach. The centerpiece of the sail-shaped building is a patented car elevator that will allow residents to access their personal garage with up to four parking spaces that comes with each apartment. The property is a collaboration between Bentley and Sieger Suarez Architects with Dezer Development, a specialist in luxury real estate. The residences, scheduled for completion in 2026, aim to match the level of workmanship and craftsmanship for which Bentley is renowned.

Bentley Residences Miami, which you can already tour virtually today, is set to redefine the way people live when it opens in 2026.

Here, too, it is the brand’s design principles that provide guidance and a sense of direction. These values must be felt in all touchpoints with the brand – consistency is that important, says Schreiber. “Whether product design is an experience or a service, design creates meaning and emotional bonds.” According to Schreiber, this is the only way to create a consistent experience across all divisions that transports this constant rediscovering of design into other areas, something that Adrian Hallmark has described as Bentley’s vision. And then there’s that feeling that comes over you when you sit down in a ­Bentley. That’s no accident. As Hallmark says, “We know how we want to combine the individual materials and apply them in a vehicle, and we know what architectural solutions we have to bring the best out of those materials. There’s no other manufacturer that does it like that.”

Patricia Jell

Patricia Jell

Freelance author
rampdesign: Success by Design

rampdesign: Success by Design

Ein Design, das den Unterschied ausmacht? Immer eine schöne Aufgabe. Viel spannender ist es aber, ein begehrenswertes Design zu entwickeln, das sich schlüssig aus der Marke ergibt und das mit einem modernen Blick konsequent für die Positionierung der Marke und deren nachhaltige Wahrnehmung arbeitet. Daher geht es immer darum, ein Markendesign zu entwickeln, das differenziert UND positioniert.

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