Gerry McGovern: Design as Philosophy

Gerry McGovern designs some of the most unique and irresistible vehicles on the planet. As Chief Creative Officer of Land Rover and a member of the board of Jaguar Land Rover, he is responsible for the direction and vision of the future of these two prestigious UK brands. “Professor Gerry McGovern OBE”, we must specify about this passionate about design, art and architecture, appointed in 2014 as a visiting professor at the prestigious Royal College of Art in London, wins in 2016 an honorary doctorate in art from Coventry University and recognized in 2020 as an officer of the Order of the British Empire by Her Majesty the Queen. Because Gerry McGovern’s full and complete commitment to design and its teaching no longer needs to be demonstrated, nor does his passion for an area of ​​activity that extends far beyond the automotive industry. The man is an authority in the world of modern architecture and furniture, collects contemporary art and is a member of several design juries, in addition to representing the company globally.

A loyalty journey

From an early age, Gerry McGovern has been inspired by the visual arts. After graduating in industrial design from Coventry University, he continued his master’s studies at the Royal College of Art in London, specializing in car design. He began his career at Chrysler in the UK, followed by a stay in Detroit before returning to the UK as a senior designer for Peugeot and later joining the Rover Group. He then joined the Ford Motor Company to lead and rejuvenate the Lincoln and Mercury brands. He joined Land Rover in 2004 as Director of Advanced Design. Since then, his responsibilities have expanded to include them as Creative Director at Land Rover, then Executive Member of Jaguar Land Rover’s Board of Directors and since 2020 Jaguar Land Rover’s Creative Director and Board Member. The board of directors of the Jaguar Land Rover. An affiliation and loyalty to the company with which he compares ” A love story “ but also loyalty in both directions, emphasizing the opportunity it has been offered to express its creativity in a broader context than the simple design of vehicles. He quotes Ratan Tata [patron jusqu’en 2012 du conglomérat indien Tata, propriétaire des marques Jaguar Land Rover] which he forged a deep relationship with when the company was taken over in 2008 and which has always inspired him, or even Ralf Speth, former CEO of Jaguar Land Rover, who was succeeded by Thierry Bolloré and who he has the feeling of to speak the same language when it comes to the luxury positioning of the Jaguar Land Rover brands and how to further establish the business in the luxury world.

Nick Dimbleby

A vision of luxury

At our request to contribute his definition of luxury and his vision for the development of car luxury, joker Gerry McGovern first – “That’s the million dollar question!” » – then explains that he does not seek inspiration from other car brands, but rather from the fashion or jewelry world, which he considers to be able to embrace creativity in its entirety, from artists to craftsmen, with the added bonus of a dimension that is purely emotional and strong narrative – “It’s about getting things done for you in a way that lives up to your expectations. You do not need anything, but you must have it. And so, in terms of pure luxury, for the most demanding consumers, time is now a luxury. » If a particular legacy can give credibility to a brand, it’s for the designer “a dead end of too much reference to the past”. For there is no doubt that we live in a time of profound change, where sustainability is the cornerstone. The designer sees electrification as inevitable in the near future, leading to major changes that do not open up for another chapter, but for another book. “Everything will soon be electric, legislation will change … How long will we be allowed to drive cars in cities? Will the people of the future embrace transport as we know it today?” We can imagine cars turning into works of art that we only show in our living room … Gerry McGovern would like to remind you that there will always be a human desire to own something special for himself, and believe not in selling goods, but in creating and delivering luxury experiences that resonate with consumers. This is where the discourse on design becomes more philosophical, even psychological. With reference to the quality of the materials, the ethics of origin, the composition of the vehicles, the designer bets that luxury customers will rely on rational criteria afterwards – durability, ethics – to justify a purchase, but that does not stop her from craving this luxury car, whatever it is … because she wants it and simply wants to own it.

Britishness or not Britishness?

As soon as a brand is British, we are tempted to talk about Britishness. What Gerry McGovern reminds us is that his team is a mosaic of nationalities, Italian, French, Brazilian … He therefore does not believe in a conscious desire to design an “English” vehicle and points out that certain British elements are there, because that’s where the brand comes from. He associates Britishness with a level of restraint, an ability to do no more. “Adherence is the hardest thing to achieve, you can design a car and add a line here, another line there, for me it’s just styling. Real design is about creative intelligence, not about today’s tastes … “ A kind of design that the designer does not necessarily find bad, but which does not embody what the Range Rover brand is. It is from this premise that, according to him, the Britishness comes from the Range Rover, which means that when you look at the car and sit behind the wheel, you feel a kind of pride. “Among all the luxury cars, in Monte Carlo for example, this car is without equal, it is not a question of price, it is just without equal and therefore there is a two-year waiting period. As simple as that. »

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