French designer Mathieu Lehanneur has transformed the Renault 4L car, an icon of the 1960s, into a luxury-travel vehicle with a lounge space in the transparent boot.
In honour of the vehicle’s 60th anniversary, Renault had tasked Lehanneur with devising a concept car that showcased his vision for the 4L.
Lehanneur’s response was the Suite No.4, which reflects on the contemporary hunger for escape and the view that journeys are more about the experience than the destination.
The car has the same lines and exterior dimensions as the classic 4L, but the rear panelling is replaced with panoramic windows that cover the sides and roof of the car. According to Lehanneur, they look like architectural glass but are made of transparent polycarbonate.
He hopes that for someone reclining in the boot, which has been turned into a lounge space, the cockpit will “dematerialise” and the view will be enveloping.
“I wanted to create a room with a view but whose view could be endlessly recreated,” said Lehanneur, “Like the missing link between mobility and immobility, between travel and refuge.”
He said he thinks of the Suite No.4 as more a work of architecture than an automobile, and one that embodies the concept of “minimal luxury”.
“I wanted to make the experience as enjoyable on the road as at the destination,” Lehanneur continued. “So I created a hybrid of the automobile world and the world of architecture in praise of the escape. Suite Number 4 isn’t a car, it’s travel architecture.”
Lehanneur retrofitted his 4L to be 100 per cent electric, and it also features transparent solar panels on the roof that help to charge the car’s battery while in sunlight.
The interior features materials from domestic rather than vehicular environments, all of which are made in France.
A bright yellow velvet upholsters the seats and dashboard, while creamy white chenille with a thick, ribbed texture covers the space in the boot.
Bolsters and cushions add to the inviting atmosphere of the lounge space, while a wooden slide-out bench can be pulled out like a drawer from under the rear hatch to extend this area.
With the hatch open, the space is open to the outdoors but sheltered from rain.
The car’s exterior features a front grill made out of one of Lehanneur’s signature materials, polished aluminium, sculpted into a rippled surface as in his Liquid Marble series.
To add to Suite No.4’s architectural qualities, the body is coated with three layers of paint meant to approximate the mineral appearance of cement.
The Suite No.4 will be displayed at the L’Atelier Renault showroom on the Champs-Elysées in Paris starting 1 December, and at the Maison&Objet fair from 20 to 24 January 2022.
The Renault 4L, pronounced “Quatrelle” in French and also known as the Renault 4, is one of the most long-lived cars in history, with a production run of 33 years between 1961 and 1994.
Eight million units were sold in that time, and it was manufactured in 28 different countries.
Renault’s recent designes include the Morphoz concept car that expanded based on user need and the Ez-Pro concept for driverless delivery pods.
Lehanneur is a French artist and designer whose previous work includes the aluminium State of the World sculptures based on population data and the sculpted marble Ocean Memories furniture pieces.
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