Leave the makeover of the R5 to a designer specializing in luxury and decoration to celebrate its 50th anniversary? The daring but successful Pierre Gonalons took the 70s star out of his comfort zone to deliver an interpretation that is both precious and pop, a kind of hybrid between Madame de Pompadour and an R’nB star.
Pink, with two diamond-cut headlights, a two-tone marble steering wheel and carpets woven by an Aubusson factory, the R5 Diamant lacks neither charm nor temperament. Certainly she wears her 50 years well.
For François Farion, director of design, colors and materials, entrusting the R5 to Pierre Gonalons was almost a foregone conclusion. In 2022, luxury is a pair of sneakers with a suit, jeans with tailored shoes. “There was a slight mismatch with this popular car side, very well drawn by the R5 and with the fact of treating it like a princess. This both popular and luxury side suited us quite well and corresponds to this new vision of luxury,” he explains. “It’s a car that has sold a lot.” Focused on women, with a rounded and elegant design that stands out from the angular lines of the early 70s, the R5 immediately finds its audience. Or rather its audience, as it seduces literally everyone. “It was an instant success and it allowed the car to be at the top of sales for many years with different versions” continues François Farion, who acknowledges a special attachment to the one that was his first car, appreciating this kind of brashness that the R5 seems to claim forever.
Impudence and freedom: pop attitude
Credit photo – Renault – Gaëlle Le Boulicaut
Impudence is also what Pierre Gonalons preserves. For this cantor of the French spirit, “a R5 embodies freedom, independence”. After all, he points out, 1972 is not that far from 1968. “It’s the car for yourself, where you escape. And she was also very popular, but it was a risk. In 2022, 50 years later, there was the desire to rediscover this independence, this impudence, this lightness and this imagination”. Because of the imagination, time seems to miss something. The R5 Diamant takes a generous sip of it and it feels good.
Pierre Gonalons, who we know for his work in decorative arts and luxury, will bridge universes and years with an offbeat, very pop and ultimately very French interpretation of the seventies star. “I wanted to make it a little gem. The message I’m trying to convey is that you can work very seriously with ease. Everyone has their vision of the R5, everyone has their own memories, everyone bought it for different reasons ,” continues the designer. “We were on a concept car, we could go very far. The idea was to project forward to answer “in 2022 what is R5?””.
Poetry and Sidesteps
Credit photo – Renault – Gaëlle Le Boulicaut
In a beautiful powder pink, the R5 Diamant takes its references from the world of luxury, but also from history, by transposing exceptional materials and know-how into the unexpected space of a car. “I like working with poetry and a step to the side. There is a choice on Renault’s part to welcome a designer who does not come from the automotive world, who works with narrative, scripting, unexpected shapes and materials. I have the impression that this pink color was unexpected, that these noble finishes or materials could surprise and be as subversive as an orange version with orange vinyl inside could be in 1972. There was a very radical intention. With its two large diamond-shaped headlights, the R5 Diamant catches our attention. “I wanted to explore the territory of jewelry. We see her as a little gem, as she could be then. Several parts of the car were modified for the needs of the facelift. Pierre Gonalons also drew a few details from models from different eras – he borrowed his seats from R5 Turbo, and went so far as to draw a few references from Renault models of the 20s and 30s: the mix is subtle from this point of view. The livery, on the other hand, clearly assumes an elegant eccentricity. At the beginning of 1970 ‘s Renault chose to transform the small car into a real cartoon character. This has not gone past the designer who is part of this line. “She was already in pop territory.
I wanted to tell this story because from the beginning in 1972 it was embodied in communication by itself with its little eyes, its headlights… it was quite cartoonish, already in pop territory. We have the marble that covers the steering wheel and the center console, the horsehair that covers the dashboard, the mohair floor mat woven in Aubusson by Ateliers Pinton, the details from the Place Vendôme – the goldsmith’s place – gilded with 24 carat gold by a Parisian workshop. Pop in 2022… it’s all these contrasts. This kind of wide gap between areas that should not meet. The most luxury with everyday life. I like this dialogue, and to suggest a kind of very optimistic message about it”.
Credit photo – Renault – Gaëlle Le Boulicaut.
This dialogue is also that of two worlds that a priori have very little in common.
By working with craftsmen, techniques and materials that one might think are limited to the shelves of the museum of decorative arts, Pierre Gonalons lays the foundations for a promising dialogue between industry and know-how. He puts them on a dashboard or the carpet of a car. The fully functional marble steering wheel was made using an innovative technique already used for an armchair. “It is a very positive moment for design, the French spirit that brings together creation, materials and an industrial world that also needs to reinvent itself. We are in an area characterized by innovation. That’s a lot of technology in a small object. comments Pierre Gonalions.
Born bold and kindly rebellious, the R5 still is 50 years later. A DNA question, no doubt. For Pierre Gonalons, the small Renault symbolizes a form of modernity and freedom. “R5 is still a French symbol. She’s 50, it’s her birthday, she’s dressing up,” he concludes with a smile.
After the 4L, reinvented by Mathieu Lehanneur for its 60th anniversary in 2021, Renault has decided to entrust the R5 to designer Pierre Gonalons to celebrate its 50th anniversary in grand style. Bold, a little irreverent, this little car shook up convention when it launched in 1972…to the point of establishing itself as a pop icon.