Bentley’s Design Directors on Integrating Existing Technology into the Car

Cars are full of interesting technology these days. But while Land Rover is illustrating the capabilities of these technologies to ford streams and navigate various terrains, the human machine interface is still an area where most manufacturers fall woefully behind the curve.

Bentley is wise to this, and with consumer technology widespread the company is looking at different ways to integrate what is already available.

“Innovation while respecting tradition,” is Bentley’s mantra — and the task of the super luxury car maker’s designers — according to director of design Luc Donckerwolke and head of exterior design Sangyup Lee.

As Lee told us in an exclusive interview last year — following his appointment from Volkswagen’s Advanced Design Center in California, USA — he is currently working on a number of different vehicles to take the brand to the next level.

“You need to have your own information inside the car, but how you integrate is very important,” says Lee. “Technology is absolutely critical for modern cars, but design can be achieved through smell and touch.”

Integration, therefore, is key in moving even a super luxury brand such as Bentley forward. The brand’s customers already have high-end communication devices in their homes, and they expect a seamless integration in their vehicles as well. Modern conveniences — and technology is chief amongst these — is, after all, the best form of luxury.

“The iPad is the best companion to integrate in a Bentley. You can have it in your hand. But we looked at it and said how can we liberate the user from having to carry it,” says Donckervwolke.

“When WO Bentley set out in 1919 he wanted to create a good car, a fast car, the best car in its segment,” Donckervwolke adds. “The same thing is applying the best tools you have out there into the car.”

Performance and luxury, which Donckervwolke refers to as a “Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde cocktail” is something that is synonymous with Bentley, but so too is the design and performance of Apple products. By having Bluetooth available for iPads and integrating keyboards into the fold out tables of the Mulsanne, Bentley is making these devices more convenient for their customers to use.

“I think it’s all about mixing the best products and the best designs together,” concludes Donckerwolke.

This short documentary film, entitled ‘Intelligent Details’, was commissioned by Bentley Motors and filmed entirely on a few iPhone 5s’ (albeit outfitted with some high-end lenses) with some heavy duty camera rigs. It was assembled and edited using the Mulsanne’s in-car connectivity and entertainment platform. How’s that for an edit suite?

In it, Donckervwolke and Lee share what inspires them, what the Bentley brand consists of, and their vision as design leaders for Bentley Motors while driving around New York in the Mulsanne’s cossetting back seat.


Founded in 2012, Form Trends tirelessly covers the automotive design industry in all corners of the globe to bring you exclusive content about cars, design, and the people behind the products.