Our Exclusive Look at Ferrari’s New Centro Stile and the Monza SP1 and SP2

Design Chief Flavio Manzoni offered us access to Ferrari's secret world

There is a something momentous happening within the curved and shrouded walls of Ferrari’s new Centro Stile (which sounds better than “design center,” its English translation). Historically the brand outsourced its interior and exterior design to celebrated companies like Pininfarina, Vignale and Zagato while it focused on the engines and platforms it knew best, but ten years ago it brought on Design Chief Flavio Manzoni to lead and develop its internal design studio, and today marks the official opening of their own building on the Ferrari campus in Maranello which we previewed this week along with the brand’s gorgeous new release, the limited edition Monza SP1 and SP2.

The new Centro Stile on the Ferrari campus

“Fortunately, here we have the chance to collaborate with all our colleagues within the different areas [at Ferrari],” says Manzoni. “In the past, it was more difficult [and] there was a different process. Ferrari used to define the package of the car and then leave the package to the coach builder to dress,” he continues. “Since the beginning of this process, we’ve completely changed the dynamics because now we can see that a car is an organic project. It’s not possible to think about shape without thinking about what’s underneath.”

For the past ten years, the ever-growing team has worked from a range of spaces, none constructed with design in mind. Today, the team—now around 80 people—works out of the Manzoni-conceived Centro Stile, which was developed with Design International and led by architect Davide Padoa to deliver a creative hub.

The SP2 shown at dusk in the Centro Stile’s courtyard

The four story building—of which one is underground—uses natural light and open space to give the vehicles room to breathe. The high-tech presentation room and large terrace are two well-lit, far-reaching areas of the building designed for exhibiting in-progress and newly-unveiled vehicles. In the work rooms, designers and digital surface modelers work with special milling machines to create scale and full-size mockups. An upholstery workshop and a color and trim department allow the entire team to assess the aesthetics of both exterior and interior on site. The Centro Stile even houses the company’s Tailor Made studio, where clients come to create the custom Ferrari of their dreams.

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The structure’s exterior—meant to be reminiscent of the dynamic lines on Ferrari vehicles—is an eye-catching combination of concave and convex surfaces. A triangular pattern—comprising alternating glass and gilded aluminum—blankets the building to “filter” unwanted eyes, provide light, and simply give the structure an attractive exterior. In itself, it’s an impressive piece of structural design.

The new Monza SP2 and SP1 shown in the Centro Stile’s design courtyard offers a private space with natural light to view cars in development

“It was absolutely mandatory to find a way to hide the models from outside view. In fact, in the presentation room, we can present models at night with light, without being seen from outside,” Manzoni says. And secrecy is what allowed Ferrari to work quietly on their newest dual release: the limited edition Monza SP1 and SP2. The surprise release was previewed to us exclusively within the Centro Stile.

“I think there is always an artistic approach which leads us. [At] Ferrari, one of the principles of product design is form follows function but always with an artistic intention. It’s not possible to think about a very performing shape like a Ferrari supercar without keeping in mind that we’ve also put some poetry on it,” Manzoni says. “But it’s very difficult and very challenging to make a new Ferrari fresh and different without losing the feeling of consistency of the brand.”

Flavio Manzoni sketching in his office. Image courtesy of Ferrari exclusively for COOL HUNTING

This tension comes to life in the brand’s newest dream machines. They are the first release in a new series called “Icona”—and their silhouettes are inspired by the classic Ferraris of the ’50s, though reimagined and with the most advanced technology inside. The two reference racing Barchettas of the past quite boldly—the SP1 is a monocoque (single-seater) and the updated SP2 adds a seat for a happy co-pilot. They’re packed with the most powerful engine Ferrari has ever built—jolting drivers from 0-100 km/h in 2.9 seconds and 0-200 km/h in 7.9 seconds with a top speed of just above 300 km/h. And you don’t even need to wear a helmet. The car’s design directs air up and over the driver and passenger.

The monolithic body evokes a “single stroke design;” as if the designer never lifted the pen—embodying timelessness, elegance and minimalism.

We normally try to get inspiration, conceptual inspiration from cars of the past and transform them into an intuition for new interpretation

“We are very careful about the use of the past. There is a tendency to look for something that was very glamorous in the past—it was an icon in the past. We normally try to get inspiration, conceptual inspiration from cars of the past and transform them into an intuition for new interpretation,” Manzoni adds. “It’s respecting the bloodline but without being too nostalgic or too banal in the repetition of the standard elements. So we can never forget the need of inventing something new.”

Images courtesy of Ferrari, exclusively for COOL HUNTING where noted