(UPDATED) I read somewhere that the most important industrial designer, Mr. JONATHAN IVE, drives a Bentley or a Rolls, perhaps even a Phantom. I could not reconcile the mental image of one of the world’s few handsome Englishmen, packed into his de rigueur T-shirt, proudly piloting the car preferred by Alberta oil barons and Ben Affleck.

This turns out to be false-memory syndrome: Ive’s reported vehicle is a customized Aston Martin DB7. You can almost imagine a nicely-defined baldie in a T-shirt driving that sort of thing, even if the steering wheel is on the incorrect side.

I came up with two explanations Ive might have offered, perhaps in an Objectified sequel, for having chosen the wretched excess of either of these marques (long since separate entities).

  1. The Rolls/Bentley model of manufacturing is the ne plus ultra of artisanal hand-craftsmanship. (Or it was thus at the time Ive would have bought one of these cars; arguably the Bugatti Veyron or the Spyker C8 surpasses that level.) With so much of his time spent developing processes (“fixtures” and especially “bosses”) for mass-produced items, the prospect of a car nearly every piece of whose interior is handmade offers welcome relief.

    Jonathan Ive flexing: That’s quite obsessive, isn’t it?
  2. The Rolls/Bentley model offers not plushness, which one associates with whore’s-drawers interiors of 1970s Sedans de Ville, but sumptuousness. When the mass-produced items one designs have metallic or plasticized planes and radii, the capacity to sink into a car offers welcome relief from relentless Modernism.

In these scenarios, a tight-bodied, shaven-headed designer seeks refuge in a loose, fleshy, preputial cocoon. But either way, I couldn’t make it work in my mind’s eye. I just kept imagining Karim Rashid lecturing us about our inhabiting a post-industrial technological age by day only to retreat into a passé, kitsch, cushy, knurled-wood home environment by night.

Karim Rashid in pink, pastel, and white clothing and room: really kitsch stage sets that have absolutely nothing to do with the age in which we live

But what is the reality? Ive selected the British car that expresses the same pulled-back tautness of his designs and his own physical self.

There is no factual basis for the conceptual union of Ive and Rolls or Bentley. Given the choice between printing the truth and printing the legend, I’m going to print the legend.

Update: It’s a Bentley

The Daily Mail runs what is purported to be a photograph of Ive leaving home in his Bentley Brooklands.

Vaguely unidentifiable man stares out of Bentley Brooklands driver’s-side window at us

I asked Pacific Coast News (note the watermark in the picture) for a complete photo credit, but did not hear back.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2010.01.18 18:05. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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