Artist and designer Bi Rongrong incorporates elements and imagery from the urban landscape into her ... [+] work
Rolls-Royce has revealed the chosen designs for the “Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge”. As part of the marque’s “Muse” art program, this latest biennial initiative invites designers to create unique artworks inspired by the marque’s sculptural figurine. With a focus on textiles, this inaugural competition has asked participants to investigate the possibilities of materials, while exploring the limits of textile design.
The three chosen proposals approach the subject in inventive ways, collectively speaking of our current environmental and societal concerns. Bi Rongrong has incorporated elements and imagery from the urban landscape into her work, Ghizlane Sahli highlights the beauty found in reused materials, while Scarlett Yang’s dynamic textile incorporates a material she created from algae extract and silk cocoon protein.
Bi Rongrong's proposal for the Rolls-Royce challenge builds on her research into what she terms the ... [+] “urban skins of cities”
As an artist and designer, Bi’s approach is particularly fascinating. She collects images of architecture, gathering elements and ornaments from urban life then, through manual or digital processing, transforming her ensemble into paintings, collages, videos and site-specific installations. Her proposal for Rolls-Royce builds on the research into what she terms the “urban skins” of cities — the surface and spaces of the city such as the ornamented elemental patterns carved on a building, vegetation growing on the edges of the pavement, or texts from wall posters. She is combining this concept with her practice of layering diverse materials with LED animation. Her final Spirit of Ecstasy design will feature imagery gathered from urban skins, incorporating metal and fabric to connect with the physicality of car making.
Ghizlane Sahli highlights the beauty that can be found in reused and recycled materials
Meanwhile, textile designer Sahli’s work is a direct reference to our critical environmental concerns, exploring the beauty that can be found in everyday objects through inventive reuse and recycling of materials. Her proposal for Rolls-Royce continues on the theme of elevating recycled materials by showing their uniqueness, value and functionality. Here, she is creating a suspended sculpture made from recycled plastics, combined with white silk and goldthread, configured to convey qualities of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine.
Textile designer Ghizlane Sahli's work is a direct reference to critical environmental issues
The final project is by multi-disciplinary designer Yang. She approaches concepts of sustainability through innovation, biomateriality and virtual fashion, investigating hybridizing hand-made craft and industrial technology. Her dynamic textile design for Spirit of Ecstasy will incorporate a new material created by Yang for this specific project which is made from algae extract and silk cocoon protein.
Scarlett Yang’s dynamic textile incorporates a material created from algae extract and silk cocoon ... [+] protein.
The “Spirit of Ecstasy Challenge” jury was formed by Rolls-Royce director of design Anders Warming, Dior Men’s director of jewelry and Ambush creative director Yoon Ahn, director of the Design Museum in London Tim Marlow and principal at Counterspace Studio in Johannesburg Sumayya Vally. In a statement, they said: “This challenge is about celebrating the bridge between tradition and innovation and all the designers we selected understand how humans are connected to our surroundings. The three winners will bring forth ideas that touched deeply on important challenges of our time.”
Multi-disciplinary designer Scarlett Yang's work investigates hybridizing hand-made craft and ... [+] industrial technology
Rolls-Royce is finding itself increasingly involved in the arts, supporting galleries and institutions and initiating a series of programs championing art, design and the moving image. Speaking with Jessica Persson Conway, head of the company’s art program a little while ago, I asked her how important it is for a brand at the pinnacle of luxury to be involved with the arts. She replied: “It’s essential. The arts are a source of inspiration and we have a duty to support future generations of art and design talent.”
As a relative newcomer to Rolls-Royce, but with a background in the BMW Group as head of MINI design for several years, Warming is also excited about this latest project. “Reviewing the design proposals was a fascinating process and we were presented with ideas that were forward-thinking and surprising.”
The three winners will now be invited to the home of Rolls-Royce in Goodwood, UK where they will collaborate with the company’s craftspeople to complete their creation. The final work will be unveiled later in the year before going on an international tour.
See my interview with Jessica Persson Conway, head of the Rolls-Royce art program. Discover some other inventive car/design/art collaborations: BMW and Jeff Koons and with Spanish artist Almudena Romero, Ares and sculptor Hubert Phipps and Lexus and the Royal College of Art.