The Aston Martin showroom in the heart of London’s Mayfair district features a car, of course. But it is surrounded by an array of other products the company is selling as it positions itself as a luxury brand, not just a sportscar maker.
There are Aston Martin branded cashmere stolls (£230), luggage, a picnic hamper (£1,950), briefcases and washbags (£149). The Dover Street showroom is key to chief executive Andy Palmer’s mission to transform the 105-year-old company into a “luxury company and not just a car company.”
The showroom, which is a couple of doors down from the younger royals former nightclub haunt, Mahikis, is the culmination of the vision of Aston Martin’s chief creative officer, Marek Reichman, who is leading the company’s push into new markets ranging from clothing to apartment buildings and even personal submarines.
“Dover Street mixes art, culture, shopping, luxury and elegance. It’s the perfect place for Aston Martin,” Reichman said. “We are surrounded by art, design and beauty and want to feature the ideas that inspire us and share them with a wider audience. No 8 Dover Street is a place where existing customers, admirers of the brand and people new to the marque can understand our design philosophies and experience the spirit of Aston Martin.”
If driving and dressing in Aston Martin is not enough, it will soon be possible to live in the company’s branded apartment building in Miami. The 66-storey tower will feature an infinity pool on the roof, an art gallery, two cinemas and an Aston Martin supercar parked in the lobby. The 391 apartments will range in cost from $600,000 (£462,000) for a 700 sq ft residence to $50m for a 19,000 sq ft penthouse.
For the more adventurous, there is even a $4m three-man Aston Martin submarine. Reichman said the company had decided to expand into submersibles following interest expressed by its richest customers. “Those superyacht people, what they want to experience is changing,” he said. “It’s no longer about just having a launch or having your tender. It’s about having some other way of entertaining your guests.”
The company is also offering increasingly bespoke options for the fitout of its cars, which dramatically increase the price beyond the average of £167,000. Reichman describes the personalised Q by Aston Martin as fulfilling the “creative need… we’re experts providing a consultation, like a Savile Row tailor or a yacht builder”.
Matthew Bennett, general manager for the Q by Aston Martin, said: “It’s a commissioning process. The customer is working much more closely with us here at Gaydon [the car make’s headquarters and workshop in Warwickshire]. The only limit is your imagination – every new commission starts with a blank sheet of paper.”
Those buying through the Q service can choose from a vast array of paint, finishes and upholstery, ranging from “unique leather quilt upholstery” to tinted wheels and even diamond-turned spokes. The next step is “ultra-limited runs” because the super-wealthy don’t want their sportscar to look the same as anyone else’s. “The ultimate commission is, of course, an entirely unique car,” says Bennett.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010