Rolls-Royce’s colour and trim designer shares the secrets of elegant automotive interiors
Sina Eggl says luxury brands will embrace ‘Post-Opulence’ after COVID-19
Often, when we review a car, our focus is on the speed, performance and exterior look. But, according to Sina Eggl, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars colour and trim designer, the interior of a luxury automotive is just as crucial to one’s enjoyment, and to the lasting passion of a driver and their beloved car.
From the materials that provide driving comfort to the colours that define a brand, Eggl’s role is to define the driver’s experience in a way that compliments the unique performance quirks and attitude of each vehicle in its range.
“The colour and trim design team at Rolls-Royce Motor Cars is responsible for everything relating to materials, colours and finishes, both for the exterior and interior of each car. Among other things, that involves bespoke exterior paints, fine leathers, rare veneers and precious metals, as well as future materials and finishes,” Eggl tells Tempus. “Every detail, from exterior lights to the smallest interior stitch-line on a door card, is carefully curated by our team and passionately designed. The role also includes the development of some of the marque’s more romantic elements, such as the iconic Starlight Headliner.
“It’s our job to curate these materials so that every element is harmonious and excites and engages our clients. We constantly seek creative stimulation from research, be it architecture, furniture, street fashion, haute couture, high jewellery, music, theatre - or anything between - to inform our thinking and deliver a breath-taking colourway and a cohesive direction on materials and aesthetics.”
It may sound similar to the approach of, say, an interior designer for a home or property but, in fact, Eggl says there is a key point of difference when designing a car than there is decorating one’s home: longevity. >>
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“Our products are designed to last for generations, which I think is very important and a key point of difference for our brand. We use the best materials, which must pass incredibly challenging durability tests before we consider including them in our motor cars. This is usually not the case for interior design for residential buildings,” she says. “80% of all Rolls-Royces produced since the company was founded in 1904 are still on the road, which showcases their tremendous quality. Materials are allowed to age, but they are designed and crafted to age gracefully.”
“Every Rolls-Royce designer finds inspiration in different places, but I think the thing that connects all of our methods is social intrigue,” Eggl explains. “That happens on many levels: whether it’s our personal sentiments, our peer group’s or the clients’. We are fascinated by regional taste patterns and subtle codes of communication.”
As a designer, Eggl travels the world for her role, and says she makes a concerted effort to explore local culture – from art galleries to concerts – wherever she may be.
“One thing that always stimulates me is the rich and unique cultures that exist across the world. It’s really important for me to learn about traditions and etiquette; about a region’s nuanced use of colour and material and what that says about the client. White, for example, may imply connotations of wedding cars in the UK, but in other regions it is the colour of high royalty,” she says.
“Of course, social media and online research is very useful for me as well. I love Annie Leibovitz, Bongchull Shin, Damien Hirst, Quentin Monge, Coco Dávez, Tom Wesselmann and Russell Young – access to their work is very important and only a click away, which I’m very grateful for.”
But when travel isn’t possible for a brand so steeped in multicultural inspiration, where does Eggl and her team turn? “COVID-19 has forced us to return to simplicity – to work with the things we have around us, and this has worked surprisingly well. I have been particularly inspired by glass: the decanters, vases and glassware in my apartment that I now have more time to study and appreciate. All of the pieces have been handcrafted in the Bavarian forest or France from different manufacturer,” she says. “Because they are handmade, they’re truly unique. I’m inspired by their simplicity and elegance. Inside the glass are carefully crafted and very thin strips of intense colours, which mix and match depending on the angle you look at the vase. The colours also reflect magically on the wall when they’re flooded with sunlight. This is a great source of inspiration when brainstorming new colours and colour combinations. >>
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“I have also spent a lot of time reading my coffee-table books about the allure and elegance of architecture and high jewellery. The Rolls-Royce design celebrates minimalist, timeless and pure designs – a movement of simplicity or minimalism we noticed some time prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Gone are the days of huge diamonds and unnecessary logos. True luxury is a lot more subtle.”
LOOKING TO THE FUTURE
Another element of Eggl’s work is Rolls-Royce’s famed accessories – such as its cocktail hampers, which were the first product Eggl designed for the brand. These add, she says, “an additional layer of playfulness and delight to our products”.
“I am currently working on future Rolls-Royce projects, which of course I can't talk about. I think the notion of post-opulence is something that will inform our future direction, though. That, and even closer collaboration with our clients.
“In a post COVID-19 world we anticipate a desire for restraint and celebration of materiality to become even more relevant. We think people will be ask for ‘less, but better’,” she says. “Internally we define this as ‘post-opulence’ and we believe that this aesthetic will be underpinned by great substance: this will not be a superficial expression of wealth, but a combination of materials that stand up to the most intense scrutiny and discreetly tell their own story.”
Rolls-Royce’s heritage has long embraced elegance and diversity within its range, but for Eggl, the beauty of any car really rests in the bespoke and delicate details – such as the Phantom’s customisable ‘Gallery’, which allows owners to redefine their interior space.
“We noticed that our clients love to decorate their private jets and superyachts with high-end art, so we helped bring this approach into a Rolls-Royce by introducing a fully customisable area within the interior. The Gallery serves as a blank canvas, created specifically for self-expression,” she says. “An example is a project we named ‘Immortal Beauty’. It embellishes the glass-covered space with porcelain flowers, which we designed in cooperation with Nymphenburg Porcelain.
"To do this, I had the unusual task of commissioning a prominent rose breeder to create a unique English rose, which we would recreate in porcelain and install in the Gallery. The rose had to embody all of Rolls-Royce’s poise, elegance and allure. The result was a very pure, delicate but voluminous white flower: sensual, but strong in presence, with a unique smell and extra winter durability. When I saw the final result, it was outstanding. A truly unique project, which you simply wouldn’t expect from any other luxury goods company.”