Ian Callum stepping down as Jaguar’s director of design

Jaguar today announced that Ian Callum, the firm’s highly respected director of design, will be retiring from that role after leading styling for the British luxury performance brand for the past two decades. Callum, who turns 64 this summer, will continue to work with Jaguar as a consultant. Julian Thomson, Jaguar’s current creative design director, will take over for Callum starting in July.

After joining Jaguar in 1999, Callum led a complete revamping of Jaguar’s product line and styling, starting with the brand’s new design language as seen on the flagship XJ sedan. Those design themes were later applied to the all-new XF and XE sedans, giving the firm a fresh look it hadn’t had in decades. Callum’s team was also responsible for the F-Type, Jaguar’s first two-seat sports car since the brand-identifying E-Type, originally introduced in the early 1960s, as well as applying the brand’s styling to Jaguar’s first utility vehicles, the F-Pace, E-Pace, and electric-powered I-Pace.

In a released statement, Ian Callum said, “I have had an incredible career at Jaguar. One of my biggest highlights was creating XF because it represented the beginning of a new era moving Jaguar from tradition to contemporary design – it was a significant turning point in our story. Designing the F-Type was a dream come true for me, and I-Pace was an opportunity to create something hugely innovative that would really challenge the perception of Jaguar – and its success is testament to just how far the brand has come.

“I came into this role with a mission to take Jaguar design back to where it deserved to be. It has taken 20 years, but I believe I have achieved what I set out to do. Given the strength of both our products and the design team I feel that now is the right time to move on, both personally and professionally, and explore other design projects. Designing Jaguar cars was a lifelong dream for me and I’m delighted to remain involved as a consultant for the brand. I have worked closely with Julian Thomson for 18 years – he is a hugely talented designer and absolutely the right person to lead Jaguar design into its next chapter.”

2012 Jaguar F-Type
2012 Jaguar F-Type Jaguar

Callum was born in Dumfries, Scotland. He and his younger brother Morey, who currently is VP for design at Ford, spent their youths sketching cars and covering their bedroom walls with car brochures. When Ian was 14, he wrote a letter to William Heynes, who then headed Jaguar’s engineering, saying that he wanted to design sports cars. Heynes replied with the suggestion that Callum should study engineering and work hard. Callum took Heynes’ advice to heart and eventually enrolled at Lanchester Polytechnic’s (now Coventry University) School of Transportation Design in Coventry, later attending Aberdeen Art College and the Glasgow School of Art, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. Moving on to London’s Royal College of Art, Callum graduated with a master’s degree in vehicle design.

Callum started his career at Ford, where he worked around the world for a dozen years, designing mundane things like steering wheels, then working on mass market Fiestas and Mondeos, and finally contributing to exciting cars like the RS200 and Escort RS Cosworth. Recognizing his talent, Ford elevated him to design manager of the Ford-owned Ghia Design Studio in Turin, Italy.

Callum’s next position was chief designer for the TWR Design consultancy, where he was responsible for designing the landmark DB7 for Aston Martin and also contributed to the Vanquish and DB9.

When Geoff Lawson, Jaguar’s chief designer, passed away in 1999, Ford, which owned Jaguar at the time, rehired Callum to head its design team. The rest, as they say, is history.

2018 Jaguar I-Pace
2018 Jaguar I-Pace Jaguar

Jaguar Land Rover chief executive officer Prof. Dr. Ralf Speth said, “The contribution Ian Callum has made to Jaguar’s industry-leading design reputation cannot be overstated. Ian stands for the most forward-thinking, rule-breaking, and emotive approach to automotive design. He has created a new Jaguar design language – and his passion for Jaguar has seen the range completely transformed during his 20 years in charge. Innovative, beautiful, future-facing, and true to our pioneering heritage, Jaguar’s current and award-winning cars are testament to Ian’s dedication.”

Julian Thomson also began his career at Ford, later serving as head of design at Lotus, and then leading exterior design at the Volkswagen Group’s Concept Design Center. He joined Jaguar in 2000, where he’s been in charge of concept vehicle development. As creative design director, Thomson has overseen strategic design direction for Jaguar.

In a statement, Julian Thomson said, “I’m honoured to take up the position of Director of Design, Jaguar. It will be a great privilege to lead such a talented team, and continue to build on our success. Automotive design has always been fast moving, but today it is changing at a rate faster than ever before. I’m passionate about ensuring Jaguar Design leads that change, and the cars that will drive our future.”

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