A Paler Hue of Blue
Lunch with Paolo Pininfarina at the Louise Blouin Foundation. Outside, the November sky is unseasonably blue. Inside, the converted warehouse is simply white. It’s the backdrop to the tv series Four Rooms. Lunch was a suitably scrumptuous Italian affair. Antipasta served with Italian breads. Wild mushroom pappardelle with rosemary oil, toasted hazelnuts and parmesan. Panna cotta with autumn berries. Coffee and petit fours.
“London has such elegant blue skies,” observes Paolo and then qualifies the statement adding, “Sometimes!”. He says, “Blue is the institutional colour of our brand.” It’s more than 80 years since Battista “Pinin” Farina signed the deed founding Società Anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in Turin. His grandson leads what has become an industrial design powerhouse and global partner to the motor industry.
“Design is what we have been about since the beginning,” says Paolo. “We use our knowledge to create for the future… to create magic!” Pininfarina’s automotive clients include Alfa Romeo, Ferrari and Maserati among others. Custom built luxury models take Pininfarina back to its roots, back two generations. Take the Hyperion (or at least you could if you’d a couple of million pounds to spare).
Created in Italy, this opulent one-off roadster takes up the legacy of Rolls-Royces designed by Pininfarina. Silver Dawn saloon of 1951, Camargue coupé of 1975… it has an illustrious heritage. The car is named after one of the Titans of Greek mythology, emphasising its architectural and figurative power.
The concept behind the Hyperion was to create a custom built car that would evoke the sumptuousness of 1930s driving. A majestic regal bonnet which surges forward, a body surrounding the driver and a single passenger, and an elegantly short tail were all musts. The result is a 21st century model firmly rooted in the values of the Pininfarina and Rolls-Royce brands. Structurally, Pininfarina moved the driving position back 400mm and took out the rear seats. A new style of hood was designed which folds behind the seats under a wood lined cover.
The iconic (for once the adjective is truly deserved) Rolls-Royce grille has been slightly inclined. An upper trapezoid part aerodynamically links to the engine hood. Recessed Bixenon headlights convey sportiness. The bonnet is underlined by the muscular taut wings. An illusion of movement even when the car is stationary is provided by extending the line that embraces the front wheels until it disappears into the hood cover. The rear end recalls Pininfarina’s legendary ‘Berlinettas’ of the 1950s and 60s with their cut off tails inclined downwards and a flat closure borrowed from boat building.
The bodywork is made of carbon guaranteeing geometrical accuracy, high rigidity and unexpected lightness. External and internal wooden finishing is another nautical reference. The doors are made of fine solid wood by craftsmen employing technologies used to create components for luxury yachts. A watch designed by Girard-Perregaux specially for the Hyperion can be removed from the dashboard and worn.
Hyperion is blue. Azure blue, the aquamarine of a hazy day on the ocean. Pininfarina has just completed a collaboration with another leading brand Paolo tells us in confidence. “Blue is the colour of both our companies,” he confides. We’ll keep you posted.