Stefan Sielaff, Director of Design at Bentley Motors, is inspired by many things, from haute couture to architecture, timepieces, and even aircraft design.
Success, notes the 54-year-old German-born innovator, is rooted in having a clear idea of what makes a brand unique. “For me, it’s the beauty of a fantastic exterior concealing innovations and craftsmanship that push the product itself forward. It’s this combination of technology and aesthetics that, in the end, makes Bentley extraordinary,” he says.
As he ushers the Bentayga SUV onto the Australian market, Crystal asked Sielaff to nominate five creations which best exemplify that external/internal marriage of design excellence.
Fashion – Alexander McQueen
“McQueen’s design language for me really defined ‘New Brit’. In many ways his work is comparable to Bentley Design – he was respectful of the British tailor-made tradition, but did things with a modern twist. He was a trained tailor who became a designer – so he understood technical and design issues holistically and all his work always had a hand-crafted feel.”
Car – Bentley Continental R Type (1952)
“The Continental R Type really marks the starting point of modern Bentley design. Many of the styling cues incorporated into the current Continental GT – the striking power line, muscular rear haunches and swooping, fast roof line – all started with this car. It has perfectly defined proportions: short front overhang, long dash to axle and long rear overhang. Overall, the design is incredibly elegant and timeless.”
Watch – Breitling Navitimer
“The Navitimer is an immaculate piece of form, function and lovely, luxury details. Just like with our new Bentayga, the Navitimer is all about attention to detail and exquisite features – which I love.”
Architecture – Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
“I really enjoy how the shapes that make up the Guggenheim’s structure reflect a fuselage theme – smooth, curved surfaces that exude power and strength. At Bentley, the fuselage form is the most important feature of our exterior design DNA.”
Aircraft – Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird
“Again – as you would expect from an aircraft – the fuselage form is a big part of the appeal for me. The curves and surfaces of the Blackbird have a purposeful, sleek feel which from a designer’s point of view is extremely appealing.”
This story first appeared in Crown Resorts’ Crystal magazine (BauerWorks) September-December 2016
Photography: Courtesy Bentley Motors and Getty Images