I spent yesterday afternoon down at the Rolls-Royce factory, which is just outside Chichester. It was also one of first opportunities to chat with Giles Taylor, who was appointed head of exterior design for Rolls-Royce in April.
Taylor has been best know for leading the work on the Jaguar XK and current XJ models and is now working in what might be described as an even more quintessentially British company. British despite the fact that the Rolls-Royce design team is based on Munich.
I asked him the same question I used to ask Gert Hildebrand when he was boss of Munich-based Mini design: ‘How you can keep the Rolls-Royce brand British, when the design team is in a steel building in central Munich?’
According to Taylor, of the 15 designers at the Rolls studio, eight of them are British, which is a significant improvement on Mini’s zero Brit count. He also says that the Rolls’ studio is self-contained, so clay models are not being shaped alongside future BMW models.
Interestingly, Taylor also revealed that the initial design development for the Rolls-Royce Ghost was carried out over a few months in rented rooms at West Stoke house, a large hotel and (Michelin-starred, interestingly) restaurant near Chichester. Presumably, the Brit-infused design concepts could then safely be taken back to Munich.