One-on-One with Rolls-Royce Lead Bespoke Designer Michael Bryden on what it means for a creative to work from home.
Tell us about your team and the Bespoke Department at Rolls-Royce
The Bespoke Design team comprises interior designers, material and color experts as well as technical engineers. It is a vibrant design studio located at the Home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, directly overlooking the production line. It is an inspiring place and an amazing environment to work in.
Describe a regular day pre-Covid 19 and Lockdown?
For us, no two days are ever alike. We work on a variety of projects ranging from customers’ commissions, special Collection cars, our Accessories Collection and of course future Bespoke concepts; each project is entirely unique. Furthermore, our work involves a lot of research of other industries, Haute Couture, Architecture, Horology and Art, to name a few. We also invest a lot of time in meeting with customers, to understand their specific requirements. As such, there are days where they visit us, and others where we must travel to wherever they may be.
Does the majority of your clients come to you?
Indeed, our clients usually like to come to Goodwood so they can see the unique environment we build our motor cars in, meet the craftspeople and see some of the incredible Bespoke samples we have in our Bespoke Atelier. Having said that, there are times where their busy schedules do not allow it. That is when I travel to meet them, it can be anywhere in the world!
When did the lockdown start?
23rd of March 2020 remote working started and we’ve been working at home since then. It is not something that the design department normally does. As designers, we work well when we work collectively as we need to collaborate and share ideas and discuss.
Luckily, we have managed to maintain contact, with daily skype calls where all the members of our team connect, share screens and discuss ideas. In this respect it is business as usual.
We have successfully adapted to remote working and for the time being we have taken the Bespoke department digitally.
How are you getting inspired in the confines of the lockdown?
It is definitely a challenge but at the same time it is very refreshing to be working differently, to have to adapt to a new environment. In order to keep myself positive and inspired, I have set up a home studio and surrounded myself with my books and magazines, positioning my workspace next to the window, overlooking nature. Furthermore, I am very fortunate to be living right around the corner from the Goodwood Estate, and now that the weather is amazing and the birds are in the sky, it’s all just so inspiring. It is a beautiful time of the year so I am taking the opportunity to go walking or cycling or running out in nature as often as I can, it is a fantastic, highly energizing feeling.
Are you working an already commissioned projects or are you taking new projects as well?
Both actually. We have a number of projects in development and are continuing to receive commissions. We have recently taken a new request online from a client in Tokyo and it went extremely well.
Have you ever refused and a client’s request?
When we take our clients’ requests, we work on developing their ideas collectively. We discuss their ideas, and if necessary, we take the spirit of their request and make an additional proposal for their consideration. Sometimes we may present multiple ideas of an initial concept to ensure the client has considered all options. We try to never refuse a client’s request, the only time this may happen is due to homologation.
The higher we rise, the more elaborate our needs and desires, but today the world is hit by an extraordinary low such as our needs have returned to the very basic!
Yet it is in such dire circumstances that man first imagined himself flying! Tell me, once this is behind us, to what new level would you like to see yourself, Rolls-Royce and the world soar?
The challenge that we are facing right now is indeed unprecedented. Having said that, for us, at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, we have always equated luxury with authenticity and I believe more and more people will be in search of that post Covid. There will always be a place for objects that encapsulate the best of human endeavor, and for us, this lies in the detailing and celebration of purity.
Speaking of purity, we anticipate a desire for restraint to emerge post Covid-19. We have been discussing this at length in the design department; we believe some clients will be searching for great substance and a celebration of materiality, but in a refined aesthetic – a movement we have termed ‘post-opulence’.