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Onelife 25

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Look back at the birth of the original Land Rover | How Land Rover has driven adventure and scientific exploration | GQ Editor Dylan Jones talks 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

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XXXXXXX LEFT European models shown. Svilne effrebatiam in dientem morbitu ssentem perdint erimistaren aperi in speremovehem te.

GERRY MCGOVERN INTERVIEW Excessive choice can create confusion. Making the Range Rover SVAutobiography (below, right) simple and understandable has resulted in a calm sanctuary, believes McGovern “WITH A CAR, YOU ARE DESIGNING A MODERN OBJECT ... WHY BE PREOCCUPIED WITH CAPTURING AN AESTHETIC OF THE PAST?” GERRY MCGOVERN 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 toward 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. How important is heritage and a sense of history in automotive design? If you take reductionism to the optimum point, you can end up with something very clinical and sterile that lacks artistry, so you have to be careful not to take the reductive process too far. I am, for a modernist, quite eclectic: I like the decorative arts of the Italian midcentury – Gio Ponti and all those who weren’t as clinical as the likes of Mies van der Rohe. I think it’s about mixing it up. However, with a car, you are designing a modern object that has to be relevant to the world it’s in and that’s why I think it’s a bit of a nonsense when we talk about recognizing the past and these icons that have gone before. ‘Icon’ itself is a word that is open to debate. What is an icon? With the Defender, there is a clear view that it has to celebrate its past, but so much has changed since it started and so much will affect the new one in terms of the ability through technology, through manufacturing, through legislation, through aerodynamics, through the way people operate now and the lifestyles they lead that will massively influence what that design will be, instantly propel it and polarize it from the original. So, why be preoccupied with capturing an aesthetic of the past? I believe the trick is to try and really capture the essence of what that vehicle is for its time. We have to be cognizant of not being over-sensitive to what has been. Does the prospect of the electric car exponentially increase the design possibilities? Absolutely. It takes the engine away, so the traditional three-box, two-box principle is thrown up in the air. I suppose the thought at the moment is you either go completely one-box or you go cab forward, which doesn’t necessarily give you the most desirable proportion in my view. It will be interesting to see how that pans out. However, at the end of the day, people don’t buy propulsion systems and they don’t buy electrification, they buy a product. To me, all our products need to be desired. I’m absolutely convinced when it comes to that emotional connection with a product; whether it’s a watch, a car, whatever it is, it’s that visceral reaction when I look at it. How does it make me feel? Do I want it? This feeling has to last long after you’ve bought it, too. I’ve owned it, used it, spent time with it, but am I getting the continuum of that? Do I still desire it? Does it still do what it’s supposed to? Am I building that longlasting relationship with it? Dylan Jones OBE is the Editor In Chief of GQ, GQ Style and GQ.com. He is the Chairman of London Fashion Week Men’s, a Trustee of the Hay Festival and the author of David Bowie: A Life, the Sunday Times bestseller 71

 

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