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DESIGN DNA: WHAT MAKES A JAGUAR SPECIAL?

Exciting, beautiful, elegant – Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum shares his Jaguar design manifesto and his vision for the brand’s future.

What are the fundamental design principles for every new Jaguar you work on?

First and foremost, we’re thinking about creating an exciting profile and an exciting stance on the road. If you look at any Jaguar in history, the one thing it’s got against all the other cars is that it’s always a more exciting shape. When you see a Jaguar on the road it catches the corner of your eye and you want turn around and look at it. That’s what a Jaguar must do. So that’s where we start off.

Then there must be a certain elegance about a Jaguar. Each line has to be a beautiful line to look at and easy to understand, without complication. And the surface has to be as beautiful as you can make it. The constraint of curved surfaces taking more room than flat surfaces means you’ve got to discipline yourself to get the right profile.

What about the physical process of the design?

We start off with hand-sketched ideas. From there we go into the digital world, and then we cut full-sized models. That’s when we really start to temper and massage all the lines to get them correct, while taking in all the attributes we have to meet at the same time. That could be dimensions, aerodynamics, crash requirements, various technical requirements, and so on.

What qualities do you look for in those initial design sketches?

Fundamentally, we start with a sketch that’s got some spontaneity and life and excitement to it. My job is to hold onto that throughout the process of turning it into reality. I think that’s one of our strongest points – we can take that initial sketch and turn it into something real that replicates the same look, feel and atmosphere.

How has Jaguar's heritage influenced the designs of today's cars?

Everyone wants a Jaguar to have specific cues, for sure. But they’re the cherry on the cake that we put on at the end.

Jaguar’s true design heritage is the process of creating something which is exciting in profile and has very simple, beautiful lines in it. That’s exactly what Sir William Lyons did – and what we continue.

How do you make Jaguar designs modern while staying true to that heritage and those classic design cues?

What you’ve got to do is exaggerate things a little bit. You emphasise character. Sir William’s cars were always wider, lower, with bigger wheels. The sort of things that excite you viscerally are the things that we try to hold on to.

Then if you want to pick up on specific cues, you can. So the grilles date back to the original XJ, the tail lamps come off the F-TYPE, which came off the E-Type... there’s a story in each detail. If you recognise where the origin is, that’s great, and if you don’t recognise them, it doesn’t matter. Sir William wasn’t sentimental about ‘heritage’ – you could tell by the way he tore off his badges like confetti and designed a new one every time.

What was your vision for Jaguar design when you joined in 1999? Has it changed?

Consistency. Jaguar in the 1950s and 1960s was a really cool, modern brand. It wasn’t very consistent in the sense that the cars looked the same, but the fundamental brand values – the sense of excitement, the purity – drove everything. Then for 30 years it was static, and didn’t change, because nobody knew what to do with it.

My vision was to create a sense of consistency and direction that still picked up on the original values of the Jaguar brand. I wanted to create an image, a face that would get Jaguar back to where it rightfully should be – which I think we’ve done. And my vision hasn’t changed.

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