It all starts in 2011
It started with the Evoque, which was unveiled in 2011. This was followed in 2017 by the Velar and then in 2018 came the new Defender. The final two chapters in Land Rover’s new trajectory was the launch of the new generation Range Rovers last year and then, in spring 2022, the Range Rover Sport.
Land Rover and the ability to explore new roads
That dynamism was fuelled by research work in which design played a pivotal role. But it could never have been any other way. Design is part of the marque’s DNA and always has been.
Land Rover’s models elevated the driving experience from tarmac to off-road. That same approach allowed the British brand to break new ground once again, creating a new style that embraces a modernist vision of design.
Massimo Frascella and his vision
The good news is that this new school of thought also speaks Italian as Jaguar Land Rover’s Head of Design is none other than Massimo Frascella.
What is the thread that connects the models the marque has presented since 2011, on a design and conceptual level?
In Land Rover, we refer to it as the emotional connection: creating products that can create an emotional connection. It all began with the Evoque. Before that, the main school of thought leveraged the idea of cars that could go anywhere.
Now that approach has changed and the purchase process is based on people’s desire to own a Land Rover or a Range Rover rather than its use. So, the purely functional aspect is now flanked by a formal one connected to emotional design that makes things desirable.
Until just a short while ago, cars like the Defender communicated a sense of adventure in remote, wild locations. Are we witnessing a paradigm shift now?
Certainly. You only have to look at the latest Defender or the new generation Range Rover. They created a connection and sparked a kind of dialogue with the architecture of metropolises like London, Paris, New York. In other words, they are no longer seen as alien objects but are perfectly integrated with the urban architectural setting.
How much has design helped change that perception? With Land Rover the theme centres around modern luxury. What does that mean exactly?
Our vision follows the philosophy of a kind of modernism based formal purity. We work hard to eliminate the superfluous without changing the identity and recognisability of the product, which is unaffected by the passing of time. We are very far removed from fashions and from anything ostentatious. The concept of luxury in our particular case rejects stereotypes and instead involves giving our clients a unique experience.
Today, cars are increasingly lived in. So do they have to be able to communicate the message we get from looking at their exterior lines?
Absolutely. Every car, particularly at the high end of the market, has to be imagined in its entirety without making any distinctions between interior and exterior. That is a fundamental part of our research work. There has to be a dialogue between materials, lines and colours to offer what I would call a holistic experience.
How do you recognise the need for digital instruments, which are vital today, with the idea of elegant, refined cabin interiors?
Technology is a great advantage and definitely enriches the driving experience but it can also become a huge problem if you don’t deal with it properly. You only have to think of electrification which imposes specific proportions on cars, aerodynamics that actually shape them. So there is a real risk of everything starting to look the same. Here at Jaguar Land Rover we are taking an approach that means the technological element has to play a functional and service role, so then it is our job to decide which type of technology we opt for, to what extent and how it should be presented.
2022 will go down in history as the year the new generation Range Rover Sport was launched. What was the most successful side of the project?
Marrying Range Rover status and identity to a design and a sporty vocation. Once again, if we look at the new Range Rover we can see that it communicates a sense of lightness despite its size – it almost looks like it is floating. The Sport on the other hand is more muscular and almost seems to be chewing up the tarmac. But both of them are still Range Rovers.
Detail-wise, what are their signatures?
The Range Rover, for instance, has a headlights and a deeper grille. The Sport has a kind of stealth grille and the headlights are more subtle, all elements that combine to communicate a powerful feeling of dynamism. The flanks are very different too. The Range Rover has an incredibly clean profile. The Sport has taut lines and is more sculpted and muscular.
What makes a product an icon? The Defender in the car sector and the Audemars Piquet Royal Oak in the watch sector, for example.
They have stood the test of time. They are the encapsulation of an extremely sophisticated idea of design but are also instantly understandable even many years after they were designed. The concept of simplicity they express goes beyond a sense of belonging to a particularly era, which means they are always modern.