Bentley Motors has a long-standing partnership with Naim Audio, the British high-end manufacturer that is responsible for the systems that go into Bentley’s lavishly appointed automobiles. Since 2008, every new Bentley model has required a bespoke audio system. Naim has parlayed the know-how and techniques gleaned from packaging audio into a standalone wireless system, the Mu-so, a home audio solution that pairs minimalist styling with big sound. Back in 2011, Naim joined forces with loudspeaker manufacturers Focal. 

That partnership is now being extended with a Bentley collaboration, with a beautifully packaged and presented set of Focal Radiance headphones and a Bentley Special Edition Mu-so. ‘We’ve worked incredibly closely with Bentley on every aspect of performance and styling since 2008,’ says Simon Matthews, Group Design Director at Focal and Naim Audio, ‘These special edition Naim speaker and Focal headphones followed the same, collaborative process.’ Bentley’s emphasis on materials and techniques has been allowed to shine. With soft leather supplied by British leathermaker Pittards, laser cut metal, copper highlights and sustainable wood, the devices draw direct links to Bentley’s design approach.

‘Every element is designed to delight and built to last,’ Matthews says, ‘we aim to be the polar opposite of the "throwaway society".’ This emphasis on longevity also characterises Bentley’s recent design focus. ‘Bacalar and EXP 100 GT are examples of the way that Bentley wants to work with each customer to create a product that is a real reflection of our aspirations in sustainability, in quality, but also in something that is unique,’ says Brett Boydell, Bentley’s Head of Interior Design, ‘it’s a tactile journey as well — these are products to admire and feel, as well as hear.’

Taking the Bentley experience out of the cars was another welcome area of exploration. ‘The Focal Radiance headphones emulate the rarefied privacy and comfort enjoyed in a Bentley cabin,’ says Matthews. For Boydell, customisation and personalisation are key. ‘Our customers have the ability to collaborate with the design team to create their own cars to their exact specification, through Bentley’s Co-Creation service,’ Boydell explains, ‘The unique colour schemes of these new Naim and Focal products reflect this customer and designer collaboration.’

‘We aim to be the polar opposite of the "throwaway society"’

Both devices have material qualities that reflect the emphasis on sustainable materials at Bentley. ‘For example, the Ayous African hardwood of the Mu-so is also a sustainable option, stained and lacquered to reflect the dark aesthetics of Bentley’s river-wood,’ says Boydell, who also points out the copper detailing. ‘The material is highlighted on the front cover of the Mu-so, which is reflective of the copper dust that was pushed into the grain structure of the wood to both highlight and stabilise the material to be used both structurally and decoratively within our cars. Naim has done an amazing job of mirroring that aesthetic principle in the font covering of the speaker,’ he adds.

The laser-cut diamond pattern on both Mu-so and the headphones is also a direct nod to Bentley interior design. ‘I think the next step for us is to look beyond a stereo system and into the complete user experience to be associated with every drive,’ says Boydell, ‘Energy and excitement inspires and drives us on both sides and will help us continue to strive for peak audio performance, as well as exquisite design and detailing.’ §