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The 5 design objects that inspire Land Rover’s head of design

Even the world’s most talented designers are continuously drawing inspiration from their surroundings. And, as it turns out, Land Rover design chief Gerry McGovern’s surroundings are as ‘Classic Driver’ as they come. Here, he explains what makes his five favourite objects so thought-provoking…

Round Café, Coventry

“During the 1960s, the whole city centre was really modern, with mosaic tiling and large expanses of glass - most of the buildings in the town centre were forward-thinking. My mother worked in the café for a while and I used to sit in there as a child. It felt like being in a spaceship. So I was introduced to this world of modernism and futuring from a very young age, which is something that has always stayed with me.”

Eames lounge chair

“It is perhaps an obvious choice for a designer to make; however, it’s so good and continues to give me pleasure, which is what ultimately all good design should have the ability to do. For me, it’s a piece of design that is still relevant today. The Eames chair has certain values that are important to me as a designer. For example, being true to materials. The fact that, rather than covering up the structure, the designers chose to celebrate it. However, by continually refining and updating the materials and finishes, as well as improving the quality of construction with more contemporary materials, softer leathers and lighter woods, it’s been kept as relevant today as the day it was designed.”

Josef Albers - 'Never Before I' series

“Albers is recognised as one of the world’s greatest modernist printmakers. To me, the beauty lies in the precision of each colour against the other. There is absolute clarity in his work. One of the reasons  I admire Albers so much is the precision that he achieved through silkscreen printing, which meant he could create perfect lines of connecting colour. The colours are so vibrant, so rich. I never tire of his work – I bought my first collection by Albers more than 15 years ago and while I’ve sold many other artists' work over the years, I’ve always kept the Albers. When creating an initial vehicle design, you start with the fundamentals, which are optimised volume and proportions, followed by surfacing and detail. There is a sense of graphic design and symbolism in a lot of my favourite art. Albers’ printmaking is a perfect example.”

Kaufmann Desert House, Palm Springs, California

“The Kaufmann House has that sense of bringing the outside in, which is something that we deliberately tried to incorporate with the inclusion of the panoramic roof on our Range Rovers. Many of our customers are being chauffeured through cities and want to look up and be able to take in their surroundings. We felt that it was important to introduce the large glass roof so we could bring a sense of the environment into the vehicle and thus create a sense of occasion.”

Patek Philippe Calatrava watch

“The Patek Philippe Calatrava particularly represents, in my view, a masterclass in simplicity and sophistication. It’s as much about what it doesn’t say, as what it does say. It’s a beautiful thing - the notion of ‘less is more’ is a fundamental part of its design philosophy. Every detail on the watch is doing a job.”

Photos: Land Rover