To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 4L, Mathieu Lehanneur was invited by French historic mobility brand Renault, a pioneer of electric vehicles in Europe, to reinvent it.
Leave. To discover. To escape.
Never before has the desire of elsewhere been so strong. Never before has the need for escape been so necessary. It is from this idea that Mathieu Lehanneur and Renault joined forces to invent a new travel experience. Designed from the legendary car 4L that celebrates its 60th anniversary this year Mathieu Lehanneur imagined a vehicle like a nomadic hotel suite, fully open to the outside and whose horizons can be continually renewed.
100% electric, SUITE N° 4 is an ode to escape, a bubble in its minimal luxury that is inspired both by the architecture and the environments in which it passes.
As a room on four wheels, cozy and bathed in light, it combines a new art of living, in the city or in the countryside.
SUITE N°4 is not a car, it is an architecture of travel.
Renault 4L is a car that has become a success story, a legend. Manufactured in 28 countries, more than 8 million units have been sold in over 100 countries over 30 years.
The result of Mathieu Lehanneur’s collaboration to Renault is SUITE N°4, an original concept car inspired by a nomad hotel suite that was unveiled last October 22, 2021, in Paris.
Mathieu Lehanneur’s vision was fuelled by the parallel worlds of automobile and architecture. SUITE N°4 is a tribute to Renault 4L, channelling the same pure, understated and simple spirit while prioritising efficiency and spontaneity. On top, this concept car projects the model into the designer’s contemporary aspirations.
“The collaboration with Mathieu Lehanneur was a natural fit.” said Arnaud Belloni, Renault Brand Global Marketing Director. “We asked him to come up with a concept car showcasing his vision for the 4L. The finished product is extraordinary. A car which really encapsulates everything the brand has set out to achieve through the “Renaulution” strategic plan: create modern and innovative cars that provoke emotions.”
“SUITE N°4 is a new mobility and travel experience. I wanted to merge the worlds of cars and architecture to create an open-air hotel room. Even better than the finest palatial suite, the car is exactly where you want it to be, whether that’s by the sea, in the middle of a field or driving around the city you’ve always dreamed of.” says Mathieu Lehanneur.
SUITE N°4 maintains the same exterior dimensions and lines as the iconic model but comes with a radical twist. The rear section and the hatch have been replaced with polycarbonate windows that provide transparency and lighting on a par with that of architectural glass. The transparent solar panels on the roof let light through while helping to charge the battery of the car, which has been retrofitted and now 100% electric.
Inside the car, Mathieu Lehanneur decided to let in the ambiance and materials proper of housing, and combine the automobile technical requirements and the sophistication of the French art de vivre. The seats and the dashboard are upholstered with an energetic yellow velvet. In contrast, the space on the back is finished with a thick, ribbed chenille fabric and accessorised with two laps, for a robust look. Bolsters and pillows complete the boot, transformed in a moving room. The experience is finalised by a wooden bench which slides like a drawer and can be extracted to provide sheltered seating when the hatch is open. Like for 4L back in the day, all of the materials are “made in France” and supplied by Paris based artisans.
The front of the car sports the same iconic lights, lines and silhouette as the original. The front grill in polished aluminium is both Lehanneur’s signature and an ode to evasion. It creates waves and gives the car a
permanent effect of fluidity, dynamism and movement. The architectural inspiration can also be found on the body of the car, which is coated with three layers of paint that give it the mineral aspect of cement.
Q&A with Mathieu Lehanneur
What is the origin of this collaboration with RENAULT?
To mark the 60th anniversary of the famous 4L, Renault asked me to give it a free interpretation. The 4L is a myth, and it was an invitation that I couldn’t refuse. I didn’t want to just pay homage to its immense success and its impressive age, but also to show that it has never been so contemporary! I’ve always loved working on monuments in this way; I love playing with their history and reactivating them through our contemporary preoccupations and sensibilities.
What do you find most appealing about the 4L?
It is above all a piece of our collective memory. We all have a memory or an image associated with it. The 4L is a myth that belongs not only to the automobile world, but also carries with it a fantasy and a culture of liberty. It is a combination of the art of living and an anti-establishment spirit. In this way, the 4L is the embodiment of French spirit mounted on 4 wheels…
I also love its timeless sobriety - it has rid itself of all superfluousness. Its luxury is the minimum necessary!
What was your inspiration for this project?
I wanted to create a room with a view but whose view could be endlessly recreated… Like the missing link between mobility and immobility, between travel and refuge; I wanted to make the experience as enjoyable on the road as at the destination. 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.
What story does SUITE Nº 4 tell?
Suite Number 4 opens the path to mobility that is no longer focused on performance, but rather on the experience. It is a hotel room open to the sky. And better than a room in the most beautiful of palaces, it is exactly where you want it to be. Facing the sea, in the middle of a field, or traveling through the city of your dreams. In real estate, they often say that the most important thing is the location, and there you are, in the right place at the right time, and if possible in good company.
What is your vision of automobile design?
For automobiles as for all things, the best definition of design was given to us by Victor Hugo: Form is the essence that rises up to the surface.
What textures and materials inspired you in this concept car?
Transparence, lots of transparence… I wanted the cockpit to dematerialize so that the light could enter. Suite Number 4 is constructed around an enveloping, panoramic glass wall that echoes the lines and the volume of the original 4L. Naturally propelled by an electric motor, we also added solar cells on the roof as if in homage to each particle of energy.
In terms of materials and finishes, a novel paint with a cement surface situates Suite Number 4 definitively on the side of architecture. Imagine it in natural surroundings - it’s no longer an automobile, it’s a tiny house!
How do you perceive the transition of the automobile to the electric era?
The automobile is experiencing its revolution. Of course the electric era is one of the pillars, but beyond that, its very status is being reinvented today. It was a means of transport from point A to point B, and now it has become an aid to an experience. The art of travelling has become more important than the destination. No matter where A is, who knows when we’ll arrive at B, all that counts is the in-between.
To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the 4L, Mathieu Lehanneur was invited by French historic mobility brand Renault, a pioneer of electric vehicles in Europe, to reinvent it. Leave. To discover. To escape. Never before has the desire of elsewhere been so strong. Never before has the need for escape been so necessary. It is from this idea that Mathieu Lehanneur and Renault joined forces to invent a new travel experience. Designed from the legendary car 4L that celebrates its 60th...
- Year 2021
- Work finished in 2021
- Status Completed works
- Type Yacht and vehicle design