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After diving into the Bugatti Chiron workshop on August 9, we take you for a short walk in the woods, always in the company of a brand that is at the forefront of luxury: Rolls-Royce. Here is a focus on the inlay and work of the manufacturer’s Woodshop workshop….
The Rolls-Royce marquetry is world-renowned. Did you know that a single tree produces just enough material to make the different wood surfaces on a single Rolls-Royce ? Dan Austin, planner of custom interior woodwork, has the privilege of choosing wood by caressing it with his palm ! “I am looking for remarkable pieces that have interesting structures and patterns. And, because we choose wood by hand, we can trace it back to where and when we cut it down.”
Each piece or pattern takes more than a month to make by hand and requires extraordinary patience and precision. Layer after layer, Rolls-Royce’s skilled craftsmen remove the ultra-thin veneer slices with a razor-sharp blade. By assembling them into sequences like pages of a book, these experts keep the veneers in their natural order as they sand, varnish and polish them.
“When the veneers have been manufactured and fitted, you look at the dashboard and you get this beautiful seamless seam in the middle of the cabin. From left to right, each detail is identical. It’s a breathtaking picture,” says Austin.
What sets Rolls-Royce apart from other manufacturers in the world of luxury is the moment when crafts and technology meet. Using state-of-the-art laser cutting equipment, the Woodshop team can create an infinite number of designs to make each Rolls unique. “We can do something as discreet as a set of initials to something that uses more than 200 different pieces of wood. With the different veneers and grain directions, we can produce remarkable effects,” explains Jim Fowles, one of the workshop’s companions.
The Majestic Horse Ghost (below) is a magnificent example of a custom-made marquetry created for the anniversary of the Year of the Horse, which looked very promising. China, it should be recalled, is a major market for the manufacturer….
To celebrate this anniversary, the workshop created a contemporary motif inspired by Chinese classical art and presented it in the woodwork as well as on the headrests and cushions. “For the horse motif, we used American walnut, maple and dark and smoked oak veneers to create a beautiful 3D effect. It’s really successful,” says Fowles.
Wood remains a living and breathing material. Long after the tree has been felled, each part has its own characteristics. No one knows better than Jonathan Peedell and his team at the Rolls-Royce workshop how to work with these characteristics to transform wood into a unique design.
“Wood is one of the essential characteristics of a Rolls-Royce,” explains Jonathan Peedell, production manager at the Rolls-Royce workshop. “The interior of a Rolls-Royce can hold up to 46 pieces of wood, and the level of complexity it requires is unmatched.”
“The know-how of a Rolls-Royce goes beyond traditional carpentry,” he says. It’s closer to what you would find in a beautiful piece of furniture or a great yacht. “Every car we build is unique and tailor-made. We do not have intelligent automation systems for wood because they do not exist. We rely on the talent, skills, touch and experience of people, which are the result of years of training and experience.”
“We are the guardians of an incredible brand, with an unparalleled reputation,” adds Peedell. “The 163 members of this team are fiercely protective of their work and derive great personal satisfaction from achieving the extremely high standards of quality of our work. They are proud to work for Rolls-Royce, and in particular to work for the famous Woodshop.”
Each piece of wood undergoes an intensive process. Once selected, the wood is carefully sanded and lacquered. It is then treated with great finesse before the veneer is subjected to rigorous control. If any imperfections are detected, they must be corrected and a member of the Woodshop team must find an ingenious solution. A small drill is used to access the wood pieces from the back to remove any imperfections without breaking the 600-micron lacquer layer !
“Wood is a natural product, which can greatly influence the level of work and the time you spend making it. For example, a very oily or porous log may require an additional two to three days to process the veneer. We have a veneer specialist who travels around the world to source wood to ensure we have the best possible materials. Although we are the Woodshop, we do not only work with wood, we create all the interior finishes. There is almost no limit, provided that this work meets the rigorous requirements of the tests, is legal and does not compromise safety.”
“There’s always an exciting car passing by, or a project on the horizon. We work on something different every week.”