Ian Callum, Sculptor of Modern Jaguar, to Step Down As Director of Design

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
ian callum sculptor of modern jaguar to step down as director of design

Designers don’t always get the credit they deserve, nor the recognition they usually shun. But without a steady, inspired hand forming the shape of an automaker’s offerings, all the business acumen of the C-suite class adds up to not much.

Jaguar can credit its post-Ford identity to one man, Ian Callum, who moved the company away from unconvincing, reheated ’60s design templates and into a new era for the British marque. Callum, who served as Jag’s director of design for two decades, is now leaving his post.

On Tuesday, Jaguar announced that the 64-year-old Scotsman is leaving the company to pursue other projects. Filling his post is the brand’s current creative design director, Julian Thomson, who hangs the new title on his door July 1st.

While Callum won’t be in charge of shaping Jaguar’s future, how won’t be absent from the process, either. The designer, who joined Ford in 1979 before moving into his current position in 1999, will remain on call as a design consultant.

Before his stint as Jaguar, Callum served as Chief Designer of TWR Design, helping create the Aston Martin DB7, Vanquish, and DB9. It’s his work at Jaguar, however, that Callum most fondly recalls, specifically the creation of a certain model.

“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,” Callum said in a statement.

“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.”

Thomson, who joined Jaguar in 2000 and has worked alongside Callum for 18 years, earned a thumbs-up from his soon-to-be predecessor. Callum called Thomson a “hugely talented designer and absolutely the right person to lead Jaguar design into its next chapter.”

Calling Callum’s designs “Innovative, beautiful, future-facing,” Jaguar Land Rover CEO Dr. Ralf Speth hailed the brand’s design chief for helping the brand forge a new identity

“The contribution Ian Callum has made to Jaguar’s industry-leading design reputation cannot be over-stated,” Speth said. “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.”

Callum’s looming departure comes as Jaguar struggles to reinvent itself once again. As sales of Callum’s beloved passenger cars slide, new SUVs like the F-Pace and E-Pace aren’t picking up all of the slack. The brand faces pressures from Europe’s stringent emissions rules. Diesel propulsion, of which JLR heartily imbibed, is rapidly becoming a pariah. Pricey electrification plans are afoot. Meanwhile, these factors and more led to steep losses over the past year. Rumors abound that parent company Tata Motors might soon offload the automaker to another company — possibly France’s PSA Group.

Tata denies this, though the pressure to right the British ship and avoid “consequences” is undoubtedly intense.

[Images: Jaguar Land Rover]

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2 of 16 comments
  • Cimarron typeR Cimarron typeR on Jun 04, 2019

    By in large I like his designs,what let the XE down was the interior. The XF was watered down by Kia copy cats for their entire lineup except the Stinger.I would'n't be surprised if his other project is lucrative consulting gig in Korea or China.

  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 04, 2019

    There'll be caterwauling in the British car blogs now. Considering Callum's porfolio, he seems to have been a touch above the norm. It's not as if Mercedes, BMW and Audi are doing styling well these days - generic mishmash, strake-adding, new hips, I'm lost in the woods and don't know what to do next stuff from those guys - but still the best line in automotive BS and self-aggrandisement you ever heard. Mercedes don't even need a PR team - their chief designer Gorden "Gordo" Wagener has any PR professional dope beaten by a country mile in pseud blathering and high-sounding poppycock. Callum has been way better than that, but somewhat sabotaged by lack of company money that could be used for higher-quality interiors.

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  • Kwik_Shift My brother inherited his work travel 2013 Ford Escape 1.6L EcoBoost to be replaced with a 2019. It is now used as a beater vehicle primarily to take my mother out for shopping/appts, etc. Just right seat height for her to get in and out of.Right now it has 420,000 (HWY) kms still on original engine/turbo/transmission. Impressive, but doesn't mean I'd intentionally buy any Ford EB combination vehicle. I've heard lots of bad things as well.
  • Analoggrotto You forgot something.
  • MKizzy We can pretty much agree at this point that all Ford ecoboost engines regardless of displacement are of trash quality.
  • Jeff71960 once a fun fast little car (if you can find an unmolested one)... unfortunately boy racer types trashed most of themhttps://www.cargurus.com/Cars/l-Used-Dodge-Neon-SRT-4-d658