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Inside the New Cadillac House at Vanderbilt, Where You Can Customize Your All-Electric Celestiq

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To provide its top-tier clients with the proper environment in which to personalize its $340,000 all-electric flagship, the Celestiq, Cadillac has created a dedicated customer-experience center. Just opened, the building, Cadillac House at Vanderbilt, is located north of Detroit on the grounds of the General Motors Technical Center, the first major corporate commission for pioneering Modernist architect Eero Saarinen, and a National Historic Landmark.

Long, low, and horizontal, the serene and distinguished space—formerly an executive dining room—retains its original 1950s travertine and terrazzo floors and walls of colored glazed brick, as well as a bright, golden, 36-foot-long decorative metallic screen by famed Modernist designer Harry Bertoia. All of this is framed within a geometric cadence of black-mullioned, floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows that look out at both GM’s Technical and Design campuses.

An interior section of the Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

In the center of the room, a giant, rotating, oculus-lit platform holds an actual Celestiq.

“We are, quite literally, at the intersection of engineering, and artistry,” says Erin Crossley, Cadillac’s design director of vehicle interiors, as she tours us around the pristine, light-filled facility.

To help customers realize their individuated vehicular vision, the space hosts a variety of virtual and physical amenities. A wall of black-stained wooden cabinets, arrayed in a Mondrian-like grid that echoes the pattern in the venerable Cadillac crest, power open to reveal paint, leather, fabric, carpet, veneer, and metal samples in a dizzying array of colors, materials, and patterns. A design library is present to peruse for inspiration. A cluster of sophisticated sewing machines, along with tools for embossing, debossing, embroidering, stitching, and laser-etching interior materials are housed in the space’s former industrial kitchen. High-tech 3-D printers in a nearby facility can further befrill componentry.

An interior section of the Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

Floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows look out at both GM’s Technical and Design campuses.

A pair of LCD displays dominate two internal walls, there to help customers visualize their shifting choices of interior and exterior colors, materials, and embellishments. And in the center of the room, a giant, rotating, oculus-lit platform is large enough to hold an actual Celestiq, an audacious bubble-backed sedan that is longer than the company’s Escalade SUV.  

A personal concierge will shepherd clients through the customization process, and will be, according to Crossley, “a single point of contact from beginning to end.” Crossley adds that the concierge will “get to know the client aesthetically, and personally” to help them make decisions to ensure that each Celestiq produced is, as she says, “absolutely a one-of-one vehicle.” In an aside, GM’s vice president of global design, Michael Simcoe, says to us that he encourages customers to “go bold” with their choices, a statement reflected in the sample Celestiq displayed on the turntable, which sported a salacious habanero orange exterior and a regal cobalt blue interior.

An interior section of the Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

The Cadillac House is home to a voluminous selection of paint, leather, fabric, carpet, and veneer samples, in a dizzying array of colors, materials, and patterns.

The new Cadillac House at Vanderbilt is named after Suzanne Vanderbilt. Hired in the mid-1950s as one of the first women to work in the field of automotive design, Vanderbilt designed custom Cadillacs intended to woo female clients, as well as patented safety innovations, blazing a trail at GM until her retirement in the late 1970s.

Clients will be encouraged to visit Cadillac House at Vanderbilt in person, where they will be treated onsite to what Crossley calls, “sweet, delightful nods”—food, glassware, tableware, linens, flowers, and more that enunciate their individual sensibilities. During their stay in Detroit, they will also be provided with personalized itineraries reflecting their interests, be they in art, architecture, design, dining, sports, music, or otherwise.

The Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

The new Cadillac House at Vanderbilt is named after Suzanne Vanderbilt, who was hired in the mid-1950s as one of the first women to work in the field of automotive design.

The goal here will be to showcase not just choices that inspire the car, but the flourishing renaissance of the city that has inspired the world’s love affair with the automobile.

“Think of Cadillac in its heyday in the 1950s, as ‘the Standard of the World’,” Crossley says. “That time of optimism. That’s what we want people to feel.”

Click here for more photos of the Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

The Cadillac House at Vanderbilt.

The Cadillac House at Vanderbilt, located north of Detroit.



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