The vision of Ian Callum, Jaguar design director since 1999
I love a sense of movement
by Matteo Zaccagnino
In 1999, Ian Callum’s lifelong dream came true when he was appointed Design Director at Jaguar. A graduate of the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal College of Art, he had previously worked for the illustrious likes of Ford and TWR Design (Aston Martin, Volvo, Nissan). However, at the age of just 14, he sent some of his sketches to his revered Jaguar’s then-chief engineer Bill Heynes who encouraged him to pursue his passion.
Architecture, Interior Design, Car Design: how important is the crossover between these sectors? I would say it’s extremely important because the fundamentals of design are the same no matter what you do. It’s about understanding the objective, the constraints and about creativity. Specific crossovers include shape, human interaction and aesthetic appeal. They all exist in all of these areas. while materials can cross all areas of design.
Some people say that designers are destined to produce services and not objects? Do you agree? I disagree. We’re producing objects of desire that people want to buy. Of course they have to work and of course the whole remit of a motor car – in the premium sector especially – reaches from the experience of purchasing and owning it, through to the time when you sell it on. So the car business is very much about producing a service, but car designers are very much about producing the object.
What role does design have to play in this historic moment? The role of design is to understand exactly what is happening around the world. Designers generally tend to be more astute than most in understanding trends. how people think and how people are behaving. They’re more observant of how the future is going to play out. So our role, as much as we can and in as many ways as we can, is to guide the rest of the industry in what we think future products should be like, should feel like, and how they should look. This plays a huge part in instigating new directions.
What do you feel will be the guidelines for the future of design? I feel the guidelines are one of understanding and problem solving, while not losing the desire and the focus on creating something that is of beauty.
Boats and cars are dynamic objects and they are in close relationships with the environment. How does this aspect influence the design aspect? The sense of movement is very important in both objects – the story boats and cars tell visually should portray a sense of movement. This is something I feel passionate about and for that reason I love the idea of boats as well as cars. With boats, especially sailing boats, I find it intriguing how the balance of technology and function are intertwined with beautiful execution.
The yacht design sector often looks to the car design arena for inspiration. Do you think the opposite is also true? Yes. On our mood boards in the studio we often have pictures of yachts, both motor yachts and sailing yachts, as a form of inspiration. There is a sense of purity about a beautiful yacht that is second to none and is something I can appreciate fully. They can be hugely inspiring when you get into the combination of function, design and style and details. And the interiors of course, they can be hugely inspiring. Car designers on the whole love good yacht design. I did design a Jaguar concept speedboat a few years ago when we launched the XF Sportbrake. It was a great opportunity to create a vision of how our design philosophy might be applied to an alternative product, in which speed and beauty are also priorities.
What is your personal relationship with the sea and boats?I love boats. On motor boats I love the notion of the power they offer within such a massive sense of space out at sea and the sense of freedom. With sailing yachts I truly love that you require no exterior power source to go wherever you wish. That is hugely romantic.
What are the min characteristics a boat should have? Beauty, elegance, a determined visual intent of direction and presence.
Ian Callum, Jaguar design director since 1999