New Bentley design boss Stefan Sielaff says the British brand must engage with a younger generation of customers, with interior design likely to be adapted first
Jim Holder
19 February 2016

Bentley must find ways to engage with younger customers, according to new design director Stefan Sielaff.

Sielaff joined Bentley last year, but had already worked on the Bentley Speed 6 concept car and Bentayga as part of a wider role within the VW Group. In particular, the Speed 6 was seen as a test bed for a new, more youthful interpretation of Bentley's brand values.

"To be absolutely clear, I don't want to destroy the heritage of the brand or even harm it in any way, but as in all life we have to improve and take steps forward," said Sielaff. "That means making the brand and its products appeal to a younger audience, from wealthy 30-year olds upwards.

"It's not about making change for the sake of it, but about finding ways to interpret what our customers want. We have a hugely international design team here - more than 20 nationalities - and we are an international brand, and we must reflect those tastes and aspirations in our products."

Sielaff said technology advancements were likely to trigger the biggest changes in interior design. "This is where the biggest, blockbuster change can come," he said. "Without a tech breakthrough we will just keep reinterpreting what we have already. With an innovation we can make a step change."

However, Sielaff denied that this meant a digitalisation of a future Bentley cabins. "Audi is about the cutting edge - Bentley is not," he said. "We do not want to over-stress technology. It must never dominate the car, and it must always be discrete. Whatever technology we add must be available but not domineering."

Sielaff admitted that the use of 3D printing to create complex, uniform shapes that humans couldn't achieve - as shown in some details on the Speed 6 - was under investigation. "A very complex piece that has been machined can create emotions so long as it is heartfelt and the very best," he said. "A Bentley will always have a unique human craftsmanship, but we can explore both areas."

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19 February 2016
What about Celebrities & charters like the Saint beside James Bond who they always go after but he stick with Aston.

19 February 2016
Hopefully this design boss will inject much needed new ideas into the brand. IMHO the entire current range is an aesthetic disaster. The Mulsanne from the C pillar backwards, the rear end of the Flying Spur, the ungainly bulk of the Continental GTs, those garish interiors ... And the Bentayga must be one of the most derided SUV shapes.

20 February 2016
He worked on the Bentayga. What a travesty. RIP Bentley. Are VAG directors blind?
Mark Willenbrock

19 February 2016
I agree the designs aren't pretty but I can see that's not what they are going for. Words like imposing come to mind. They will look right sitting outside a stately home. Rolls are the same. The back end of the Phantom is almost comically tapered, with titchy light clusters but overall its effect is to make the rest of the body loom even larger. They also took something away from the front when they got rid of the original round lights.

19 February 2016
If you want to talk aesthetic disasters where the design speaks of nothing other than confusion, you won't go wrong looking at the current Honda Civic. Its one of the worst car designs I have ever seen.

19 February 2016
Sure, there are plenty of styling disasters currently on offer. I single out Bentley because it is an aspirational brand and deserves better. Of course I could also argue against myself by saying that it is precisely the awkwardness of a Bentley (bulk in the wrong places) that makes them stand out. There are probably more Bentley customers who prefer display of wealth to display of taste. This also explains why a typical Bentley interior is full of clashing materials, shapes and colours. "More is more" seems to be the interior designers' motto.

19 February 2016
Reality disconnect alert...Reality disconnect alert...Reality disconnect alert...Reality disconnect alert...

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