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Photo: Rolls-Royce

Storied luxury houses do a delicate dance, balancing tradition and modernity. For the British marque at the very pinnacle of automotive refinement, it is not a waltz nor a tango but a graceful flow of energy that honours a deeply revered legacy as gently as it steers its destiny. 

For a moment, imagine the centenarian as a ballerina poised for a plié. The dancer bends at the knee before performing the requisite jump, strengthening the muscles and enhancing flexibility. In a similar fashion, this is how Rolls-Royce maintains its relevance.

A Rolls-Royce is, after all, art in motion. 

“If you look at the watch business, art, or even fashion, the minute you get into collecting the real deal, it’s sometimes not even a matter of price, but a matter of storytelling,” says Anders Warming, director of design at Rolls-Royce.  

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Anders Warming, director of design. (Photo: Rolls-Royce) 

“Everything we do has to have a strong sense of storytelling — some reference to the past, something that can make you smile.” And the story of Rolls-Royce “inspires greatness.” It’s a story of untold elegance, informed by art and science in equal measure. “A Rolls-Royce is a statement of confidence; a beautiful, thoughtful, artful statement of when you arrive,” Warming asserts. 

The pursuit of perfection

Now, arriving at this statement begins with the quest for perfection, and one would indeed be remiss to call Rolls-Royce a mere car company. “As far as the luxury experience goes, Rolls-Royce is on the next level. You really are in a league of your own with a Rolls-Royce, and it is important for us to deliver on that promise,” he adds. 

“If a client pays an average price of about €500,000 ($727,270) for a Rolls-Royce, then the client is keen on asking the following: Is it efficient? Is it beautiful? Is it luxury? Is it perfection? And we love that challenge,” Warming continues.

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The Rolls-Royce Amethyst Droptail, a special one-off Coachbuild commission for a client incorporating the precious gemstones in its design. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)

For the Danish designer, it’s about articulating what he calls “the architecture of luxury”, working hand-in-hand with the engineering team to achieve a perfect symmetry of proportions for optimal aerodynamics. “In design, it’s never really about what you do and how you do (something); it is really about why you do it,” stresses the former head of design of MINI and exterior chief designer of BMW.

For instance, Rolls-Royce engineers want the client to feel like they’re floating on a cloud inside a Rolls-Royce. But the philosophy that underpins it? To make the ride so smooth, the passengers in the back don’t risk losing even one drop of champagne.

“It’s important to know it’s an expensive drop of champagne. It is an element of appreciation for the finer things in life; we should not always be in a hurry,” explains Warming, who joined the Rolls-Royce family, which is part of the BMW Group, in 2021. 

A tradition of innovation

As head of design, the 51-year-old promotes a culture in which the designers and engineers in his team are encouraged to “fight” for their ideas. “What’s important is that anything, any cool idea is possible in the early phase. They should push back and push for what they believe in and on what they want (to create).”

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Handcrafted to perfection: Rolls-Royce’s Bespoke division crafts clients’ dreams into reality. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)

He believes this cultivates a tradition of innovation while focusing on the “why” and helps delineate the design parameters that enable the best design ideas to flourish. “If we don’t have enough parameters, then we haven’t dug deep enough,” he says.

Deadlines, for example, are a form of parameter that Warming believes helps to nurture creativity. “It informs creativity. It’s like water in a stream. You can’t just say, ‘Please, stone, can you move away?’ It is part of the water’s path and the part of life you can’t plan for. Then, if you look deeper into the ‘why’, you will know why the stone is there.”

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The iconic Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture featured on the bonnet of every Rolls-Royce has gone through several iterations throughout history, with the latest being a new design that debuted on Spectre, the first fully electric Rolls-Royce in history. (Photo: Rolls-Royce)

The proverbial stone in Warming’s path today is the relentless pursuit of perfection that comes with the responsibility of upholding the fundamental design principles set out by Sir Henry Royce himself over a century ago. “I’m always very, very critical of my latest work, and I’d still be looking for what can be improved,” he shares. “That’s the mantra of Sir Henry Royce: ‘Take the best and make it better’. The minute you think you’re finished, you might just be getting started.”