Bentley Motors is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of its own Design department at Crewe and reflects on how the department has grown 10 times larger over the last 20 years to meet demand and continually evolve Bentley design DNA…
The first Crewe-designed Bentley was the R-Type Continental in 1951 and was the responsibility of John Blatchley, the Head of Styling. John’s previous experience as chief designer from Gurney-Nutting, the coachbuilders responsible for the iconic ‘Blue Train’ Bentley, meant he had a honed sense of proportion and form.
When it was founded in 1951, the design department’s key responsibility was to communicate ideas and design proposals and share its vision with other areas of the business. This was achieved by capturing design sketches as watercolour artworks, painted by hand – beautifully crafted yet with no opportunity to click an ‘undo’ button if a mistake was made.
Andreas Mindt, Bentley’s Director of Design:
“Leading the next evolution of Bentley’s design DNA is a true honour, especially after so many decades of exquisite design in our studio in Crewe. There are iconic Bentleys that were created here – beautiful cars that have stood the test of time, and which inspire our styling cues to this day.
“Our team of designers is now engaged with their next opportunity – creating Bentley’s first BEV, which must translate and reshape those classic forms and details to a truly future-facing design. Not only that, the car must be sustainable in more ways than just being electric – so we are exploring sustainable materials, recyclability and new ways of working to ensure the car has a low carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle. Getting this design absolutely perfect will help guarantee the next chapter in this astonishing history of Bentley Design.”
The watercolour renders were then reproduced in scale or full-size technical drawings depicting side, front, rear, plan elevations and sectional views along the body to describe to the model makers the form of the new car.
Model makers of recent times follow the same processes as they did in the 1950s. To visualise the drawings in three dimensions, a metal framework is covered with a malleable material (historically wax, and more recently clay) then accurately shaped to describe the form of the new vehicle. Measurements could then be taken from the model and cross-referenced back to ensure the drawings were representative.
Nowadays measuring arms and scanning equipment enable quicker assessment of three-dimensional models, with accuracy down to hundredths of a millimetre, and provide data as either numeric printouts or cloud data uploaded directly within the design studio for instant virtual reference.
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