Robert Melville officially took over the Design Director role at McLaren earlier this month. He replaces Frank Stephenson who has left the company for “personal reasons”, according to a company spokesman.
Melville will be a familiar face to anyone following McLaren design. Initially hired into a senior designer role, his first job was working on the McLaren P1. He designed the front end and side view, and senior designer Paul Howse created for the rear end design.
Following his work on the McLaren P1 and 650S, Melville was promoted to the position of Chief Designer, where he led designs of the 675LT, the 570S and GT Sports Series models, and the latest addition to the Super Series range, the 720S.
“This is a dream job for any designer,” Melville told Form Trends in an interview on Monday (video coming soon). “I had a poster of a [McLaren] F1 on the wall growing up; it was always a special brand for me.”
A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Melville attended Huddersfield University before being sponsored by Jaguar Land Rover to attend the RCA’s Vehicle Design MA program in London. Upon graduation, he went to work in Land Rover’s advanced design studio and worked on the LRX show car, which previewed the production Evoque.
In 2006, he joined General Motors’ now-defunct UK advanced design studio where he worked on the Cadillac Converj show car as well as other future concepts, planning and research projects for GM’s various brands. He joined McLaren in September 2009 and was promoted to Chief Designer in December 2014.
Melville now leads a small but tight-knit team of seven designers developing the future design direction of McLaren cars and projects for McLaren Special Operations (MSO). We’ll be bringing you our exclusive video interview with the new design director soon.
Though this would, by all accounts, be a strange move, it certainly makes for a very good PR story. A Mini spokesman declined to confirm or deny this rumor, and Stephenson has not yet replied to our request for clarification. We’ll be sure to let you know once we’ve received confirmation.
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