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The house of Aston Martin could design you a house

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From submarines (above), to powerboats, to condos, no project is off the table for Aston Martin Consulting, says design director Miles Nurnberger.

BT_20180921_ASTON21_3568620.jpg
From submarines, to powerboats, to condos, no project is off the table for Aston Martin Consulting, says design director Miles Nurnberger (above).

Singapore

DRIVE an Aston Martin and you might feel like James Bond, but how would you feel about living in an Aston Martin, or travelling underwater in one?

The latter two might seem like peculiar projects for the sports car company, but they will soon be a reality, the result of Aston Martin Consulting.

The British sports car firm, which is expected to launch an initial public offering soon on the back of its first annual profit in years, has been quietly putting its designers to work for half a decade, but formalised the business by setting up a design consultancy in 2016.

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"It's actually been going for five years, but not publicly," said Miles Nurnberger, Aston Martin's director of design. "More and more people were coming and asking us to design this or that, so we decided to formalise it," he told The Business Times.

To date, the consultancy has yielded a luxury powerboat, the AM37, with the next two projects being Aston Martin Residences, an upcoming condominium in Miami, and Project Neptune, a three-person luxury submersible.

"Car design is an interesting thing, because it combines materials expertise, technology, heat and vibration management, all these elements which can be translated to things outside of cars," said Mr Nurnberger. "There's also actually a lot of similarity, particularly in interior design."

He cited the leather used in the condominium project as an example. It was sourced, designed and prototyped in the same studio as the company's sports car interiors.

Mr Nurnberger said designing other things is beneficial to Aston Martin's styling team, too. "We find that these collaborations bring in a lot of luxury ideas, so we also gain a different understanding of what luxury means in other areas. It also helps keep our designers fresh."

Car companies have been down this road before. Germany's BMW, for example, invested in a design consultancy called DesignWorksUSA in 1991, before buying it outright in 1995. The subsidiary continues to work on BMW projects, but around half its billing is for external clients.

The company has done work for companies as wide-ranging as Nokia, Microsoft, Starbucks and Coca-Cola, and designed the First Class Suites on some Singapore Airlines aircraft.

In Aston Martin's case though, establishing a design consultancy was never an explicit part of its business plan. "I think it happened quite naturally. We see ourselves as a luxury company, just that we predominantly make cars today." said Mr Nurnberger.

Given that luxury encompasses a broad spectrum of items, no project is off the table for Aston Martin Consulting, he said.

Does that mean that you could have your very own Aston Martin-designed man cave at home? "We'll consider each proposal on a case-by-case basis, but we're open to anything."

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