When Rolls-Royce introduced the eighth generation Phantom in 2017, it ensured it had an ace up its sleeve for its most demanding and insistent customers. Every Rolls is a special edition of sorts, and no-one who spends £363,000 on a car will baulk at a few customised extras to make theirs stand out from the crowd.
One of the things that distinguished the new Phantom from its predecessors was the ‘Gallery’, an inset within the dashboard designed to be a space for artistic commissions, whether crafted, painted, printed, inlaid, or stitched.
The Gallery provides space for objects old and new, placing them behind a piece of special glass with sufficient depth for special lighting, and giving creatives a unique canvas to work with. This Rolls-Royce Phantom Orchid edition takes full advantage of the Gallery, while going further to use all of the company’s crafting skills. Designed for a customer based in Singapore, it is a strict one-off. The orchid is a global symbol of beauty, as well as being the national flower of Singapore. It is also an object that has been coveted and collected for generations.
Rolls-Royce typically hands over such commissions to what it calls the Bespoke Collective at the Home of Rolls-Royce, essentially a workshop-within-a-workshop where the private requirements of customers are drawn up, plotted out, and implemented. There’s a great deal of skill at work at Rolls-Royce’s Goodwood HQ. It takes hundreds of hours to build a ‘standard’ Phantom, although there isn’t really any such thing; every car that emerges from the factory is unique in some respect.
However, some Rolls-Royces are more unique than others. In addition to the woodworkers, leather wranglers, paint specialists and others who put in the time, the Phantom Orchid includes a commission from the fabric artist Helen Amy Murray. Murray, who uses material like silk and leather to shape her works, has created interior installations for hotels around the world.
For this car, Murray created a hand-sculpted silk artwork to be housed within the Gallery section. The piece took over 200 hours to put together and marked a first for Murray as it uses full, realistic colour, rather than stylised monochromatic hues. The result is rich and vibrant, a three-dimensional silk crepe satin sculpture that is carefully hand-sculpted to appear as if it sprouts from the dashboard.
The Gallery installation is paired with expert marquetry work by Rolls-Royce Bespoke Designer Yohan Benchetrit. In particular, the rear folding Picnic Tables have inlaid orchid patterns in the piano black veneer, along with subtle orchid imagery on the treadplates. The Phantom’s vast body is painted in Arctic White with a pearlescent hint of violet, with yet another discrete orchid symbol on the coachline.
Despite the intensive care and effort that went into the Phantom Orchid, it’s still a long way from what can be achieved by the Bespoke Division. Last year’s Boat Tail, the first of three tailor-made grand convertibles, was estimated to have cost its client around £20m. With that in mind, the Phantom Orchid looks like a blooming bargain.
Rolls-Royce Phantom prices start at £363,600. Read more at Rolls-RoyceMotorCars.com.
This article is part of The T3 Edit, a collaboration between T3 and Wallpaper* which explores the very best blends of design, craft, and technology. Wallpaper* magazine is the world’s leading authority on contemporary design and The T3 Edit is your essential guide to what’s new and what’s next.