As a first for the marque, Rolls-Royce motor cars have invited three emerging artists to create a piece inspired by its iconic Spirit of Ecstasy figurine as part of an inaugural biennial initiative for Muse, Rolls-Royce’s art program.
Initially created by Charles Sykes in 1911, the figure has since become one of the world’s most recognisable symbols of luxury. It is synonymous with the sophistication, style and timeless perfection of the cars it embodies.
This new chapter in the motif’s legend has seen the three winners of the challenge create a work of art in the textile medium, each inspired by the mascot and unveiled at London’s Cromwell Place.
The three winners, Scarlett Yang, Ghizlane Sahli and Bi Rongrong, have been handpicked by a jury consisting of Rolls-Royce’s design director, Anders Warming, Yoon Ahn, who oversees design at Dior Men, Tim Marlow of the Design Museum London and Sumayya Vally, founder of Johannesburg’s Counterspace Studio.
Working with textiles, Bi Rongrong’s design features imagery sourced from ‘urban skins’, a series of surfaces and spaces of a city related to Spirit of Ecstasy and the materials used to create a Rolls-Royce motor car.
Ghizlane Sahli created a suspended sculpture using recycled plastic combined with white silk and gold thread to echo the qualities of the figurine.
Scarlett Yang created her piece using new algae extract and silk cocoon protein material to make a dynamic textile artwork.
The pieces were debuted in London and will travel worldwide on a global tour.
Words by Jaz Grewal
The maker of the World’s most luxurious cars has teamed with Fabergé to craft and create a bespoke “Spirit of Ecstasy” Fabergé Egg
Coveted since 20th Century, Fabergé’s exquisitely decorated imperial eggs have been collected for generations with some of the most valuable eggs in the collection dating as far as back as pre-1917.
Now, contemporising the design codes of both heritage brands, the egg has been conceived under the direction of Rolls-Royce designers Stefan Monro and Alex Innes in collaboration with Fabergé’s Lead Designer Liisa Talgren and bought to life by the House’s workmaster, Paul Jones.
Evoking the design cues synonymous with the elusive eggs of Fabergé, The Spirit of Ecstasy Egg sits on a hand-engraved base crafted from purple enamel and 18-carat white gold. Rose gold arms and hues from the archives of Fabergé are adorned with 10 carats of diamonds and 390 carats of natural amethyst.
A celebration of innovative design and art, the ornamental masterpiece is expected to become one of the most collectable Imperial Eggs of all time and stands as the first Imperial to be produced since 1917.
The Egg connects the elements that lie at the very core of each marque – the Spirit of Ecstasy, the illustrious muse that has guided each Rolls-Royce motor car for over a century, and the form of a Fabergé Egg, the pinnacle of ornamental expression. The masterpiece resulting from this distinguished collaboration reflects the extraordinary attention to detail and the consummate craftsmanship for which both brands are renowned to this day.
Torsten Müller-Ötvös, Chief Executive Officer, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, commented, “’The Spirit of Ecstasy’ Fabergé Egg was born from an intrinsic desire to further the realms of Bespoke personalisation. Responding to the continuing demands of patrons in search of unique and cherished possessions, a designer at the House of Rolls-Royce sketched an egg, igniting a fascination that will undoubtedly become one of the most collectable items of modern times.”
A team of seven craftspeople from Fabergé undertook the challenge of fabricating the design using the finest materials married with their extraordinary skill as artist jewellers. At first glance, the Egg is unmistakable in its character. The tiny Rolls-Royce mascot is sculpted in frosted rock crystal and cocooned within the egg. The final design echoes that of Fabergé’s heritage – masterfully woven into the intricate design.
The technical mastery of Fabergé prevails. The ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ Fabergé Egg adopts a highly complex operating mechanism, conceived through computer aided design and animation, developed with micro engineering. The success of this mechanism, and in turn the piece as a whole, can be attributed to the goldsmiths’ art as craftspeople and their ability to meld this skill with technology, creating a work of art that could not be created by man alone. The piece embodies both the artistic design and engineering skill that one expects from a collaboration between Rolls-Royce and Fabergé, and has probably the most complicated opening of any Fabergé Egg to date.
Josina von dem Bussche-Kessell, Business Development and Global Sales Director, Fabergé added, “Two years in the making, we are very excited to unveil this special piece to our clients and partners across the globe together with Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and are proud to continue making history by creating bespoke and unique pieces such as this. The ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ Egg marks a demonstration of the reputation that Fabergé proudly carries today.”
Fifty Imperial Easter eggs were created for the Russian Imperial family between 1885 and 1916. These creations are inextricably linked to the lives of the Romanov family. Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893 during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; a further 40 were created during the rule of his dutiful son, Nicholas II, two each year – one for his mother the dowager, the second for his wife. If we explore the great archives of Rolls-Royce, we find that Tsar Nicholas II was indeed also a patron of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.