With the many wealthy Rolls-Royce customers in the Middle Eastern markets, it is not unusual that the carmaker’s Bespoke division receives very unique personalisation projects from the region. According to Cesar Habib, Regional Director Middle East & Africa, the Middle East region has long been the source of many of the most technically complex, creatively ambitious Bespoke commissions ever undertaken by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.
This is evident in ‘The Pearl Cullinan’, the very first client Bespoke project to be commissioned through the Rolls-Royce Private Office Dubai. The only one in the world, the SUV was commissioned by a son as a surprise birthday gift for his 90-year old father. It has a supreme example of the marque’s creativity and craftsmanship: a fascia motif that features the Arabic symbol for ‘father’ inlaid in stainless steel, and one of the most extensive uses of mother-of-pearl ever seen in a Bespoke Rolls-Royce.
Commemorating the family’s heritage story
“As the motor car is a birthday gift to the father of a longstanding patron, it adds a very special dimension to the project: it has been a privilege to create such a magnificent motor car to mark this auspicious occasion,” said Habib. “The Pearl Cullinan not only has a deep personal meaning to both father and son, it also commemorates the great heritage story of the family. At Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, highly Bespoke commissions have always been crafted with deep emotional connections in mind and each motor car has its own tale.”
‘The Pearl Cullinan’ was commissioned in early 2022 after Habib and Bespoke Lead Designer, Michelle Lusby, were originally introduced to the father with the purpose of understanding his passions and life story. The meetings provided valuable insights to inform the design direction for the commission.
Bespoke Pearl Rose Exterior
The Bespoke Pearl Rose finish is inspired by the colour of the owner’s most prized pearl in his extensive, world-class collection and is reserved exclusively for this car. It will not be available to any other customer in future. Paint specialists at the Rolls-Royce used carefully selected pigments to replicate a delicate hint of pink rarely found in natural pearls. Unusually, the paint combines both metallic and pearlescent effects to give exceptional depth and lustre.
Perfecting the finish required around 30 different iterations, each applied to a full-sized body panel. These were pre-checked under daylight simulation lamps in the Atelier at Goodwood, then sent to the customer to make sure the colour was correct when viewed under the Middle Eastern sun.
The paint also underwent extensive technical testing to ensure it will remain unaltered by heat or UV light over its lifetime, which should be a considerable length of time.
The Pearl Rose finish is complemented with a single coachline, applied by hand in Rose Gold paint, to match the rose gold-plated Spirit of Ecstasy mascot. The rose gold theme also extends to the Bespoke treadplates, which are revealed on each of the four door sills upon opening.
The Art of Presentation
The interior of The Pearl Cullinan features two different leather colours. The front seats – where the father prefers to travel as a passenger – are finished in his favourite Cashmere Grey. In reference to the family’s heritage, the rear seats are trimmed in Ardent Red which takes inspiration from the colour of the material on which pearls are presented to customers, to best highlight their subtle natural colour variations.
In a similar vein, the burr walnut veneer echoes the wooden presentation boxes in which pearls are traditionally handed over to customers upon purchase. Bespoke embroidery detailing includes ‘RR’ monograms in Rose Gold thread on the headrests, and rear seat inserts in Grace White, inspired by the symmetrical growth patterns of an oyster shell and angled at the same precise 55 degrees as the veneer.
Celebration of mother-of-pearl
The Pearl Cullinan features one of the most extensive uses of mother-of-pearl ever seen in a Rolls-Royce. The natural variations of this beautiful material created opportunities and challenges in equal measure for the marque’s designers and craftspeople.
This is particularly apparent with the detailed design of the Picnic Tables, fitted to the rear of the front passenger seats. The upper surface features an intricate, circular pattern inspired by traditional Arabic design that draws the eye inwards to a central point.
Each tabletop is then inlaid with 1,351 separate pieces of mother-of-pearl, every one individually selected and placed by hand in the surrounding burr walnut marquetry and sealed with clear lacquer. The natural shade and colour differences in both the mother-of-pearl and the wood mean each tabletop is a unique work of art.
The burr walnut fascia incorporates an exquisite mother-of-pearl inlay inspired by traditional Middle Eastern art. At its centre is the Arabic word for ‘father’, inlaid in stainless steel. In a first for Rolls-Royce, the Bespoke dashboard clock is set in a mother-of-pearl surround; the dial and hands are in rose gold. The centre rotary dial is also finished with mother-of-pearl, giving it a tactile, jewel-like quality.
Above the occupants, the Bespoke Starlight Headliner shows the sky as it appeared on the night and at the very place the commissioning client’s father was born.
‘Emotions inspire our imaginations!’
“For me, there was a huge emotional connection with this Bespoke project. I had the privilege of spending time with the commissioning family, which allowed me to discuss details of the design directly with them, and really understand their true significance. Their unique use of mother-of-pearl was a great creative and technical challenge for us: to see the Picnic Tables go from my original digital designs to those beautiful, highly detailed finished works of art was fantastic. This is a truly special commission in so many ways, and a project we aspire to have as Rolls-Royce designers,” said Lead Designer Lusby, adding that ‘emotions inspire our imaginations!’.