Bentley’s design studies for a sustainable future

Luxury car maker Bentley works with the Royal College of Art to envision the future of sustainable motoring.

Bentley has collaborated with the Royal College of Art to create a series of design studies which peer deeply into a future of sustainable motoring.

The studies were built around three ideas — ‘the made world’ which looks at the use of materials and craftsmanship; ‘the regenerative world’ which focuses on finding new ways of enhancing sustainability; and ‘the meaningful world’ which looks at how it can be used to help humans better learn about the world around us.

The designs, created by students from the College, were first shown off in September at The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao as part of Motion, Autos, Art, Architecture – an exhibition exploring the intersection of automobile design and art, curated by the Norman Foster Studio. They’ll now go on a European tour throughout 2023 as part of Bentley’s ‘Beyond100’ strategy – what the car maker calls ‘a holistic future vision to transition the Bentley brand.’

“Within a decade, Bentley will transform from a 100-year-old luxury car company to a new, sustainable, wholly ethical role model for luxury,” said Adrian Hallmark, chairman and chief executive of Bentley.

Professor Dale Harrow, Chair of the Intelligent Mobility Design Centre and Head of Intelligent Mobility Design, Royal College of Art, said: “We are at a turning point where the onset of autonomous vehicles must be balanced with sustainable materials and processes: students have developed a wide range of responses to this need in collaboration with Bentley who have supported them throughout the design process.”

The designers were asked to consider some common themes across the three ideas — themes of handmade processes and the use of materials; of vehicle function and intelligence; and of using digital tools to make us feel more connected.

 Bentley sustainability design Pace Layers

In ‘the made world’, Shoichi Sato’s design, ‘Pace Layers’, took inspiration from the levels within a building including foundations, structure, skin, services, internal space and contents. This concept was applied to a car, where in the future as parts of the car (or system) become obsolete at different rates and can be intelligently replaced repeatedly or swapped, avoiding the redundancy and wastage in traditional vehicle lifecycles. The design took inspiration from fashion designer Vivienne Westwood’s maxim of ‘Buy less. Choose well. Make it last.’

For ‘the regenerative world’, Ben Martin’s ‘Carbon Capture Experience’ design filters the air that moves around the car as occupants make their journey improving the air quality and the environment. The vehicle also proposes using semi-transparent biopolymers to enable an accessible visual experience of this new form of functionality.

Finally, in ‘the meaningful world’, Naomi Saka’s design – The Bentley Spark – drives digital research toward deeper interaction. Proposing that future owners will seek greater interaction with their products through an environment that is flexible and evolves with them. Taking inspiration from nature, Naomi believes an authentic language for an empathic environment could be recreated in a car – building a new adaptive aesthetic language which stems from the form and movement of natural biological systems and organisms. Through this approach, she suggests a car could recognise special occasions, greeting the occupants in dynamic, connective and unique ways.