Dezeen Magazine

Iris van Herpen gives Rolls-Royce Phantom an "ethereal" redesign

British automotive company Rolls-Royce has unveiled Phantom Syntopia, a shimmering car with a starry-light interior made in collaboration with designer Iris van Herpen.

Named Phantom Syntopia after Van Herpen's collection of Phantom dresses, the vehicle is modelled on Rolls-Royce's Phantom – its line of highly customisable cars.

The new Phantom comes with bespoke features more commonly found in haute couture fashion including a starry headliner, three-dimensional textile sculptures, silken seating and a plush quilt fabric lining.

The exterior of the Phantom Syntopia
Phantom Syntopia was designed by Iris van Herpen

"For this special collaboration, I was inspired by the concept of 'Weaving Water' and transformed the sense of being in movement into an immersive experience of fluidity inside the Phantom," Van Herpen said.

"I wanted this to become a state-of-the-art experience being overwhelmed by the forces of nature," she added.

"The powerful movement of the Phantom is woven into the shifting three-dimensional waves inside the car to embody the ingenuity of nature."

The hood of the Phantom Syntopia
The exterior is clad in an iridescent paint

Known for her ability to marry cutting-edge technology such as 3D printing with biomimicry – a discipline that looks to nature to find solutions to human needs – Van Herpen often uses water as her inspiration, and the Phantom Syntopia was no exception.

"Phantom Syntopia takes its name from Iris van Herpen's landmark 2018 collection, designed on the principles of biomimicry in which art is inspired by patterns and shapes found in nature," Rolls-Royce explained.

"Like the collection, which comprises a series of highly sculptural garments brought to life through movement, Phantom Syntopia seeks to represent the elusive, ethereal beauty of fluid motion in solid materials through its 'Weaving Water' theme," the brand continued.

The interior of the Phantom Syntopia
It features an interior illuminated by starry lights

In addition to its aesthetic qualities, Rolls-Royce says the vehicle the "most technically complex Bespoke Phantom ever produced", citing its headliner – the material that covers the ceiling – as one of the most challenging aspects.

Designed to look like a 3D object, the headliner is made from a single sheet of leather. It has been decorated with 162 glass organza flower petals and 995 sparkling fibre-optic star lights, many of which were applied by hand.

Seats inside a Rolls-Royce car
The design is informed by a 2018 collection by the designer

Other technical innovations include an iridescent paint developed just for the car called Liquid Noir that has been applied to its exterior.

Made from a combination of purple, blue, magenta and gold shades, the paint was applied using a special technique to create a mirror-like effect.

Inside, the front seats are upholstered in grey leather, while the three rear seats are clad in a silk-blend fabric. All of the seats have been created using a traditional rug-making tufting technique.

A cedarwood scent is released through a specially-developed mechanism in the headrests.

Iris Van Herpen working on Phantom Syntopia
Many decorative parts were applied by hand in Goodwood

According to the car brand, Phantom Syntopia took four years to develop and is meant for private collection. As well as the car itself, Van Herpen will design a one-off garment to compliment the Phantom Syntopia.

The Phantom Syntopia was produced between the Rolls-Royce manufacturing facility and headquarters in Goodwood, England, and Van Herpen's studio in Amsterdam.

Van Herpen is the latest in a string of designers to turn their hands to car design. The late American designer Virgil Abloh collaborated with German car brand Mercedes Benz on Maybach, a black-and-sand coloured limited-edition vehicle.

Meanwhile, fashion brand Moncler partnered with Mercedes-Benz to create Project Mondo G, a puffer jacket-informed car.

The photos are courtesy of Rolls-Royce.

More images

Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen
Phantom Syntopia by Rolls-Royce and Iris Van Herpen