1951 Bentley Continental R-TypeBentley Motors celebrates the 70th anniversary of the foundation of its Design department at Crewe. The first Crewe-designed Bentley was the R-Type Continental, which was unveiled back in 1951.

Andreas Mindt, Bentley's Director of Design, comments:

Leading the next evolution of Bentley's design DNA is a true honour, especially after so many decades of exquisite design in our studio in Crewe. There are iconic Bentleys that were created here – beautiful cars that have stood the test of time, and which inspire our styling cues to this day.

Our team of designers is now engaged with their next opportunity – creating Bentley's first BEV, which must translate and reshape those classic forms and details to a truly future-facing design. Not only that, the car must be sustainable in more ways than just being electric – so we are exploring sustainable materials, recyclability and new ways of working to ensure the car has a low carbon footprint throughout its lifecycle. Getting this design absolutely perfect will help guarantee the next chapter in this astonishing history of Bentley Design.

The department's key responsibilities were to communicate ideas and design proposals and share their vision with other areas of the business. This was achieved by collecting sketches and watercolor artworks, all done by hand.

The watercolor renders were then reproduced in scale or full-size technical drawings depicting side, front, rear, plan elevations, and sectional views along the body to describe to the model makers the form of the new car.

Today, designers follow a similar creation process as they did 70 years ago – in order to visualize the final result, model makers work with a metal framework is covered with a malleable material (historically wax, and more recently clay) then accurately shaped to describe the form of the new vehicle. Measurements could then be taken from the model and cross-referenced back to ensure the drawings were representative.

However, contemporary technologies aim designers to quickly assemble all the 3D models, with an accuracy down to the 100th of a millimeter.

Today's virtual reality technologies and advanced computer systems allow sketch in a virtual world that can be experienced regardless of geographical location on screens or through headsets and augmented reality. Even with new tools and techniques, once the design has reached full maturity a full-size model will still be made, ensuring all of the fine details are perfect before release for production.

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Darren Day, Head of Interior Design – and the longest serving member of the Bentley design team, comments:

Despite the global pandemic we have had to learn to adapt and use the tools around us to continue evolving how we design. I had at least two of my design colleagues working in different locations around the world due to the pandemic travel restrictions preventing their return to Crewe. Using virtual reality we could hold design reviews, assess details, alternate texture, choose colour, swap materials and yet still make progress and achieve our deadlines.

Pyms Lane has remained the focal point for Bentley's headquarters in Crewe since the factory was built in 1938.  This focus will only accelerate Bentley's plans to develop further areas of the site to support Bentley's journey towards electrification. After 70 years, the business will relocate to one of the most iconic buildings on the campus for the next era, with the build of a new Design Studio in the months to come.