Driven - Feb 2021

“Post-Opulent” discussions with the Rolls-Royce Ghost design team.

In a world where automakers continually prioritise the constant sales of their vehicles, a phrase like planned obsolescence becomes an increasingly apparent theme, it keeps companies ticking over and profit margins in the green. It is therefore refreshing to be able to have a digital round table conversation with those responsible for the new Rolls-Royce Ghost where longevity is the dominating ideology. Granted, the Goodwood based automotive deluxe manufacturer will never be in reach of the vast majority of automotive consumers, 2020 shook the world to its core and even the ultra-moneyed clientele have been looking for a slightly more understated ride. 

The team, presented by Rami Joudi (regional PR manager in the Middle East and Africa) included Felix Kilbertus (head of exterior design), Henry Cloke (lead exterior designer) and Jon Simms (vehicle project leader). The objective was to provide valuable insight into their design decisions and begin to explain the brands paradigm shift for the new Ghost portfolio. Much of the world still finds itself affected in some way or another by Covid-19, which consequently has the ultra-wealthy inadvertently appreciating their luxuries in a less ostentatious and imposing manner. Rolls-Royce have dubbed this new luxury age as Post-Opulence. Henry Cloke, the identifier of this new ideology focused his design process of Ghost wholly on minimalism and purity, devoid of grandeur and fuss. 

This new approach to creating the updated model has not resulted in a cheaper aesthetic typical with mass produced econoboxes that fill public roads, in fact the quality and benchmark synonymous with the storied brand still remain abundant with their surface finishes and overall aesthetic. To an untrained eye the all new Ghost may seem identical to its precedent which was originally launched in 2009, which brings me to the age old Rolls-Royce ideology of longevity. These are creations that intend to remain eternally fashionable, which is exacting in a world obsessed with consumption and recurring fads. Proportionally, both appear greatly similar however the updated model focuses on removing all unnecessary design and mitigating the risk of any operational flaws. The lengthy wait for the new model can be credited to a mantra mentioned in the conversation where striving to be the best is more imperative than striving to be the first. 

Felix Kilbertus alluded to the impressive number of Rolls-Royce models still registered for road use, at over 70% they remain one of the stalwarts of longevity – vehemently rejecting the trend of planned obsolescence. These are cars that are built to last a lifetime and Ghost is no different, in fact its predecessor set the benchmark so high (as the best selling model in their history), that the entire car was re-designed from the ground up to incorporate more modern solutions and technology. Ghost no longer shares any of its underpinnings with anything offered by the BMW group. To achieve their onerous pursuit of perfect simplicity, the platform employs the same Architecture of Luxury that was embodied in the Cullinan and Phantom offerings. This hand-welded aluminium space frame provides it with the same level of luxury and comfort expected from any modern car adorned with the Spirit of Ecstacy.

The Post Opulent era lacking frivolous and unnecessary features has simplified the model into something that is tantalizingly elegant and beautiful while keeping the same exceptional quality and standards of Rolls-Royce. Ghost continues the lineage of manufacturing cars that will last a lifetime.

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