Ian Callum, design director at Jaguar, narrates the evolution of the English brand Conserving Britishness, but with astonishing solutions. To make customers fall in love

At Milano Design Week 2019 the new Jaguar XE literally “exploded” (above) to allow the audience to fully appreciate its Britishness, interpreted in keeping with paradigms that confirm the irony and the inimitable style, reinterpreted without labels, and the inseparable bond with the brand’s heritage. In a scenario of continuous acceleration, the secret – for Jaguar – is to speak to a wider audience through advanced materials, contamination with other industries, while evolving to intercept the style of the new generations.

So it came as no surprise that the installation created by Ian Callum, Jaguar Director of Design, and Andrea Rosati, Jaguar Design Manager, blended tradition and inspirations, to remind us – as Rosati says – that “even starting each day with an empty sheet of paper, your heritage is always there behind every work, telling you who you are.” We talked about it with Ian Callum.

Let’s start with the importance of Britishness for a brand like Jaguar.It is fundamental!

It is the reason people around the world buy our cars. Brands often forget what they represent, and that is a mistake. But Jaguar has evolved starting with Britishness. What we have to look at when we design something new is an overall balance, which is very hard to achieve in today’s reality: you want your car to be exciting but not vulgar or aggressive; obviously it should be handsome and sporty, but never brash, never ‘shouting’ too loud. For the interiors we have to make sure to use quality materials, and the architecture has to be simple. When you get in the car you have to be able to absorb the space visually, something you can fully understand, without complications. In other cars I don’t know what to focus on inside them, there are so many elements instead of a single, large picture, and people get confused.

Does this balance mean conserving Britishness but adapting it to a changing world?

It is very important to know how to adapt the culture of the brand and at the same time have fun, surprising people with hidden details, telling stories: we often use things from the past – graphic elements, for example – and play with them. To design a car is a process of storytelling. But if you lose sight of your legacy, in the end you are going nowhere. Many people forget the starting point.

You have been working as a designer for 40 years. What is the most intriguing part of your job? Design itself is a continuous challenge. It is a process in which first you want to emulate, then display and finally create. Emulating means learning, then you can make people see what you have learned, and after that you begin to think in a creative way. I want to challenge myself to invent something I will love and people will love, and something that is different. Moving forward, I feel an increasing need to disrupt what has been done in the past. There is nothing more satisfying than having imagined something, looking at it and thinking… that’s awfully beautiful! And only beautiful things can last.

Photos JLR archives - Article Nina Stefenelli