Designer Profile: A Look At Jaguar Design Director Ian Callum’s Career

Jaguar design director Ian Callum has had a lifelong obsession with cars and car design in particular. Having started drawing cars at an early age, Callum was determined to pursue a career in design and told his primary teachers of his aspiration. The rest, as they say is history…

Born in Dumfries, Scotland, Callum has worked for Ford, TWR and been with Jaguar since 1999, when he was appointed to succeed the late Geoff Lawson. But while Callum has steadfastly pushed design at Jaguar forward to new heights, ushering in vehicles such as the XF, the F-Type and, most recently, the F-Pace. He also led the creation of a series of successful concept cars for the marque, including the R-Coupe, RD-6 and Advanced Lightweight Coupe.

Callum was recruited by Ford in 1978 and the company sponsored him on a two-year course in Automobile Design at the Royal College of Art. Though he stayed with Ford for 12 years, working in Dunton as well as at Ghia’s studio in Turin, Italy, he always speaks fondly of his time at TWR, the role he took upon leaving Ford in 1990. In the early days of his time there, Callum worked on designs for another fabled British brand: Aston Martin.

TWR was a melting pot for Callum and he was able to have a direct influence on a number of projects ranging from the Aston Martin DB7 and Vanquish to cars for Mazda, Nissan and Volvo. When he was appointed to head Jaguar (then under Ford stewardship), he also directed design at Aston Martin where he laid the foundations for the DB9. It was later completed by Henrik Fisker. I’d argue the DB9 one of the most beautiful automotive designs ever created, based largely on the longevity of the design — it still looks fresh today.

In the video above, Callum talks about his passion for design to Michael Harvey in a film directed by photographer Charlie Gary. It provides us with a look inside Callum’s career and gives us a candid insight into the life of a designer has received five honorary doctorates from universities around the world as well as being honored as a Royal Designer for Industry by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce).


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