Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones discusses inspiration with Chief Design Officer Gerry McGovern | Exploring the potential impact of electrification and connected vehicles | Tackling the 999 steep steps up to Heaven’s Gate in China
“WITH A CAR, YOU ARE
“WITH A CAR, YOU ARE DESIGNING A MODERN OBJECT ... WHY BE PREOCCUPIED WITH CAPTURING AN AESTHETIC FROM THE PAST?” GERRY MCGOVERN You seem obsessed with modernism, with constantly honing and refining your vision? Modernism is a philosophy, a movement, a design approach that embraces looking forward. Within this philosophy is an inherent reductive approach, which, for me, means getting rid of excess and the unnecessary. That was very much the case with the Velar, particularly the interior, where we deliberately eradicated extraneous design features. In the automotive industry, I don’t think anyone’s really harnessed modernism fully. For example, when I look at some cars, it’s like Zorro’s been at them, with a line here, a line there, creating total visual confusion. Good design fundamentally starts with optimum volume of proportions. Once you’ve achieved that, theoretically it’s like a suit – if you cut it really well and the overall proportion is right, you should be fine. If you suddenly include a lot of lines and detail, you’re confusing the message. I feel the same way about architecture. I’ve never understood why some people seem content to live in a house that feels like it was created 200 years ago. Why not celebrate the future? What technology has done in this respect is allow us to develop things that have a genuine sense of looking forward, rather than back. You’re very precise and very demanding of your team. Are you often disappointed by the limitations of the manufacturing process? In many respects, I think automotive design has always played second fiddle to engineering. There was always a realisation that design was a big contributor toward product desirability, but I think the level of creative intellect that’s gone into it in the past is maybe not as sophisticated as it could have been. Ultimately, the way a company is set up makes a massive difference to the design sensibility. If you’ve got people running the company that don’t recognise the value of design, then invariably the company isn’t going to produce good designs. One of the benefits we have at Land Rover is that there is a recognition of the relevance of design. You’ve got to give designers the ability to optimise their contribution and they have to be given a responsibility in terms of structure, so they have equity with the other disciplines, particularly engineering. There has to be a starting point and that is creating a vision. You have to create that vision, then at least the engineers can see what you want and work towards it. There will always be trade-offs, so it’s a case of developing a good relationship with the engineers. I can remember ten years ago we were never going to have wheels that were bigger than 20 inches; it wasn’t possible because the weight of the suspension system wouldn’t carry it. Now, our average wheel is 22 inches, so you have to keep pushing – and bring people with you. How important is it to be reductive? If you go into a store, or you want to buy a particular watch or piece of clothing and there are 15 different versions of it, you almost think, ‘Forget it, I can’t choose.’ So, it’s about reducing choice. Make it simple, make it understandable and don’t confuse people. The SVAutobiography, for instance, is like a luxury hotel inside and you don’t want to contradict that feeling. The calm sanctuary is almost an extension of your home and you don’t want to shatter that illusion. For me, a vehicle should be an object of desire and if you pare it back to its essence, you’ve got more chance of seeing what that natural beauty is. 72
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Land Rover Magazine showcases stories from around the world that celebrate inner strength and the drive to go Above and Beyond.
In this issue, New Defender is put through its paces by two inspirational young adventurers as they prepare for an expedition to the South Pole. We also celebrate 50 years of Range Rover by taking a journey of discovery to Dubai. As well as looking back, we look to future as a group of visionaries explain the technologies that could change the future for all of us.