Royal College of Arts students imagine British luxury in 2050 for Bentley

Article by Christian A., on November 21, 2018

Imagining the future of automotive luxury more than three decades from now seems to be a daunting task. It would be hard for a typical person imagine such future without having the sense of vision and an eye for design. But for students at the Royal College of Arts in London, imagining how automotive luxury would look like in the future is their true calling.

In a dynamic collaboration, Bentley and Royal College of Arts (RCA) sought how the automotive luxury could be defined in 2050, or more than 30 years from now. The collaboration asked student at the world renowned RCA to imagine a truly luxurious Grand Touring experience for the future, by employing elements of physical materiality, technology and craftsmanship – all of which refuse to die even this era of virtual and digital world.

Interestingly, the current Design Director at Bentley was a graduate at the RCA. Stefan Sielaff, an alumnus of the RCA’s renowned Automotive Design program, remarked that the collaboration challenged millennial students for their vision of the automotive future, as laden with luxury.

In particular, the collaboration involved RCA’s second-year students, who Sielaff described as those designing the cars of the future and the taste makers in training. These students were asked the same question for them to answer with their designs: “What will British luxury mean in 2050?”

Overall, 24 students rose to the challenge and submitted designs they believe represent British luxury in 2050. From these 24 submissions, RCA lecturers and the Bentley design team selected four thought provoking designs. These designs are: ‘Luxury Soundscapes’ by Irene Chiu; ‘Material Humanity’ by Kate NamGoong; ‘Stratospheric Grand Touring’ by Jack Watson; and ‘Elegant Autonomy’ by Enuji Choi.

As it name indicates, Chiu’s ‘Luxury Soundscapes’ played special attention to the role of sound in future luxury mobility. She designed an autonomous vehicle can filter in pleasurable sounds while filtering out undesirable and stressful noises. Luxury Soundscapes essentially demonstrates how soundscape – as a transformative approach to in-cabin acoustics – can play a role in the wellbeing and travel experiences of passengers.

Meanwhile, NamGoong’s ‘Material Humanity’ focuses on unexpected and emotional aspects luxury car customers would still appreciate in 2050. In the future, fully autonomous and electric vehicles would be common, while an internal combustion vehicle would be luxury because of traditional engines becoming a rare commodity.

Inspired by Bentley’s near-100-year history of innovation, Watson’s Stratospheric Grand Touring imagines a future where luxurious stratospheric Grand Touring has become a reality, thereby lifting the restriction as to where people are able to live.

On the other hand, Choi’s Elegant Autonomy centered on British elegance and etiquette -- in particular when entering or exiting a driverless vehicle in a smart city.

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The students were challenged to imagine how – in an increasingly virtual and digital world – elements of physical materiality, technology and craftsmanship can be curated to create a truly luxurious Grand Touring experience.

Bentley’s Design Director Stefan Sielaff, an alumnus of the RCA’s renowned Automotive Design programme, explained: “Bentley has always been at the forefront of automotive luxury, and with this collaboration we asked millennial students for their vision of the future.

“We wanted ideas and concepts that could potentially lead us in new and interesting directions, using the perspective of these digital natives – from all over the world – to see things differently. These second-year students are the ones who will be designing the cars of the future – the taste makers in training, if you will. That’s why the results of the challenge are so exciting.”

Dr. Chris Thorpe, Senior Tutor in Intelligent Mobility at the RCA, added: “How do you make tomorrow’s personal journey an emotional experience, as evolving culture, disruptive technology and personal desires change tomorrow’s car? Our students tackled that question when Bentley asked them to look at automotive luxury over the next 30 years.”

Soundscapes, luxury stratospheric transportation and sophisticated driverless elegance all feature in the diverse design visions, which were created in response to the question: ‘What will British luxury mean in 2050?’

From the 24 student responses submitted, four were identified as being particularly thought provoking by RCA lecturers and the Bentley design team, who also offered guidance and tutelage throughout the curriculum project.

These academic outcomes considered the impacts of new technologies and craftsmanship on personal transport, and interrogated what luxury might mean in an autonomous and increasingly sustainable world.

From Soundscapes to the Stratosphere – The Student Responses

‘Luxury Soundscapes’ by Irene Chiu’s considered the role of sound in future luxury mobility, with a vehicle that can selectively filter undesirable and stressful noises while at the same time allowing pleasurable bioacoustics to remain. She suggests that soundscape will be a transformative approach to in-cabin acoustics in autonomous vehicles, demonstrating how it could be influential in passengers’ health, wellbeing and travel experiences.

‘Material Humanity’ by Kate NamGoong identified the unexpected and the emotional as qualities that will continue to be appreciated by luxury car customers in 2050. Moreover, she suggests true luxury in the future will be the choice to occasionally drive yourself in an internal combustion vehicle, when the rest of the world is fully autonomous and electric. With traditional engines becoming such a rarity, Kate imagines that people will want to see the mechanical workings – just as they do with luxurious mechanical watches today.

‘Stratospheric Grand Touring’ by Jack Watson took inspiration from Bentley’s near-100-year history of groundbreaking innovation for his design study. His vision of future luxury imagines a scenario where international business travel will no longer restrict where people are able live, as sustainable, luxury stratospheric Grand Touring will be a reality.

‘Elegant Autonomy’ by Enuji Choi looked at the importance of elegance and British etiquette in a future with driverless vehicles built for smart cities. The project focuses on the etiquette of ingress and egress, and how it has evolved over time – from horse-drawn carriages to modern-day cars – and the way it will continue to evolve in an autonomous world.

View all of the student submissions at

Source: Bentley

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Topics: bentley, concept



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