Land Rover Design Director Shares Design Awakening

Land Rover Design Director Shares Design Awakening

Land Rover Design Director Shares Design Awakening Recently Land Rover Design Director and Chief Creative Officer, Gerry McGovern, spoke to Architectural Digest about the Land Rover Design process including discussing the process of selecting color, designing the exterior, and choices about the interior. Check out the full interview below:

Although the Discovery has been loved for it’s capabilities, JLR knew that it needed to also provide a beautiful aesthetic to really capture the attention of buyers. McGovern elaborates, “One thing that’s been missing from the Discovery, as much as it is liked, is that it’s coming from a very functional base. People love the idea of its versatility; its capability is a given. The trick is to make it more universally desirable without making it generic. That was the challenge with this vehicle, which, compared to the outgoing vehicle, is a massive shift. It’s still got all the quality you’d expect, and more. We create our vehicles within design, not the other way around, and the Discovery was no exception.”

Land Rover has long been known for it’s utilitarian vehicles, but design was never a main focus for the automotive manufacturer. McGovern shares when the shift towards design took place, “The fundamental change came when Tata Motors (from India) bought Jaguar Land Rover. Ratan Tata himself is trained as an architect. He was responsible for making sure that design was at the core of everything we do. One of the first questions he asked was, “Why does design report to engineering?” Tata explained how design needed to be an entity in its own right. It changed straight away. That made a massive difference in the culture, particularly at Land Rover, which was about functionalism. Design was just seen as an addition. That was a fundamental shift. You can create designs that still have engineering integrity—they’re mutually compatible. It was an awakening for the business to think that way.”

McGovern explains how designing The Evoque changed the way Land Rover thinks about design and branding, “The Evoque was the first vehicle I was responsible for. That vehicle that was a white-space vehicle—it didn’t exist before. It came from the idea of taking a luxury SUV and making it smaller, targeted partly toward more female drivers. We thought we’d sell maybe 20,000 or 30,000 of them. On average, we’ve sold 125,000 a year, for five years in a row now. We’ve never had to put any money into it, in terms of marketing. It’s been a massive success. Through design, we could create desirability. Once technology has become comparable throughout the industry, what are you left with? It’s your brand, and it’s the design.”

Although black is a favorite color, sometimes color can be just as important: “I live with my family in London, and Range Rover is king there; the vehicles are everywhere, like in parts of Manhattan. I get fed up with seeing them in black. I think black is great for some things, but when it comes to cars—particularly in terms of our design language—you don’t actually see the form too well.”

How does McGovern see Land Rover design and production moving forward? “One of the problems Jaguar had for a long time is that they were seen as being a bit too retrospective, rather than looking forward. Land Rover has a unique heritage, but it’s about recognizing that heritage. I think the Land Rover brand lends itself to all types of white-space opportunities. You look at the SUVs—by 2020 there will be about 25 million products sold on an annual basis. That’s a massive opportunity to do something special. Automotive design is cyclical. As long as you can create designs that stand the test of time… when you bring a new car out, you need to be able to look at the one it replaces and say, “This makes that look old.” The car you haven’t replaced yet shouldn’t look old until the new one comes out.”

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