One of the biggest unveilings at the 39th Bangkok International Motor Show last month was that of the new Rolls-Royce Phantom (as the last Phantom came out 15 years ago). With so much anticipation weighing on the new model, you can bet that the luxury carmaker went the extra mile to deck out the vehicle with some unbeatable features.
In addition to impressive technical upgrades like the new twin turbocharged V12, integrated intelligent systems and top-notch soundproofing measures, Rolls-Royce decided to put forth an element of fine art with the new Phantom. Collaborating with the centuries-old Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg (Nymphenburg Porcelain Manufactory), Rolls-Royce has integrated a personal “gallery” into the new Phantom’s interior, with a specially commissioned piece on display just for the Thailand debut.
We had to opportunity to sit down with the CEO of Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, Anders Thomas, from inside the Rolls-Royce exclusive area during the Motor Show, to talk about this special collaboration with the bespoke carmaker and about why Nymphenburg porcelain is truly like no other in the world.
So what has Nymphenberg created for Rolls-Royce for today?
We have created a bespoke object for the new Phantom. The piece is a branch of white Ratchaphruek flowers [the national flower of Thailand], which is placed in the gallery in the co-driver seat.
Why does a Nymphenburg and Rolls-Royce partnership make sense?
I think it’s a collaboration on the same eye level since we are known for pushing craftsmanship to the limit. I think it’s the same with what Rolls-Royce does in terms of automobiles.
Can you walk us through the process of coming up with this porcelain piece for Rolls-Royce to present to the Thai market?
Rolls-Royce approached us to see if we were interested in creating something for the new Phantom for the Thai market. We had many conferences back and forth to see what the expectations were and to get input from the regional market itself. Then together we decided on a symbol of significance that is celebratory of Thai culture--the Ratchaphruek flowers.
We kept our porcelain Ratchaphruek white rather than paint it yellow like the real flower because the beauty and pureness in white we thought would have more of an impression in the car’s gallery. It’s also in bisque rather than glazed because when it’s not reflective, the white has more of a contrast and you can see much more of the beauty in the details of the porcelain.
What are you telling the market with this in-vehicle gallery and this specially-designed porcelain piece?
It’s an inspiration. We’ve showcased this piece in order to tell Rolls-Royce customers that “this is what you can do with your Phantom.” It doesn’t have to be Ratchaphruek either. It can be another flower or not even a flower. We can do anything for you.
Nymphenburg porcelain is considered the most pristine porcelain craftsmanship in the world. Why is that, especially two-and-a-half centuries later?
As you may already know, Nymphenburg Porcelain was commissioned by royalty to start up in 1774. So guaranteed, we have a legacy of producing porcelain that is fit for kings and queens. Why we are still esteemed today is because of our devoted craftsmen. Everything is made by them, even the painting. You can see who made your piece by finding the craftsman’s signature on the underside. Also, unlike most brands, there is no such thing as a “discontinued” model in Nymphenburg Porcelain. If you ask us to produce something that was originally created in 1760, we can do that. We are able to produce everything we have ever in our history.
Earlier you were talking about how the craftsmen at Nymphenburg were drawn to the institution because of passion, because of their devotion to the craft that aligns with that of this historic manufactory. So why were you drawn to Nymphenburg?
I was more so dropped into this field because my background was in private equity and merchant acquisition. But I got the opportunity to start in Nymphenburg and from there, when you talk to the craftsmen working there, you see this passion that’s just burning whether they’ve been there for one year or for 50 years. I feel like you can’t replicate this in the financial world, and that’s what motivates me to be at a passion-driven place like Nymphenburg.
Examples of Nymphenburg craftsmanship (Photos: Courtesy of nymphenburg.com):
I noticed earlier when we were offered coffee that you insisted on having it out of your own Nymphenburg porcelain cup, which you’ve brought over all the way from Germany in a special briefcase. Do you always do this?
I do when I can, if it’s not too rude to. It makes a major difference to drink tea or coffee out of the right cup. You don’t drink wine out of a toothbrush cup. You have a fine mouth-blown glass for your wine to honor the value of the drink, and that’s the same with coffee or tea. You have your own value for yourself to drink out of the most precise cup you can have. And if you ask me, there’s of course only one porcelain you can drink you coffee out of. All the rest only do the purpose of not spilling.
Learn more about Nymphenburg at nymphenburg.com.