I have mentioned this book a few times before, but I owe it to you to give a more informative review. Jaguar Design: A Story of Style, is as stunning book both in presentation and in content. As billed by publisher Porter Press, this is, essentially, the story of three men — Jaguar company founder and owner Sir William Lyons, aerodynamicist Malcolm Sayer and current Design Director Ian Callum — and how they shaped the cars that made Jaguar famous.
The line that really struck me, and it actually occurs in Ian Callum’s introduction, is in answer to the question, “Should not form follow function?” To this Callum replied, “Yes, of course, but one of the functions of a Jaguar is to be beautiful.”
In a nutshell, that hits at the core of what makes a Jaguar a Jaguar, and what makes the most iconic of the Jaguars stand out. For this quintessentially English firm, no matter who they are now owned by, style is not something that is just slapped on after everything else about a car is finished. No, style is designed in from the start. It is something that is deeply rooted within the corporate culture of the company and why the person who leads that company’s design team is so important.
This book, massive at over 500 pages and about 7 pounds, covers the entire design process from rough sketch to complete car. Examples of models along the entire history of the company are given including prototypes, one-offs, stillborns, and dead ends. Looking at what was left on the cutting room floor can often be as important as seeing what made it out the door. Why were fins never used? What about gull-wing doors? Why was one nose chosen over another? All of these types of things are covered extensively throughout the book with the documentation, images, and interviews to back it all up.
The author, Nick Hull, has over 25 years’ experience as a designer, writer, and academic on automotive design. From 2002 to 2015 Nick taught at Coventry University, latterly as Course Director for Transport Design. He is a visiting tutor at ISD in France and Umea Institute of Design in Sweden. His areas of research include the history of automotive design and the study of proportions in car design. Nick worked for Honda from 1992-2002, initially heading up the interior design studio in Germany. Previously, he was employed by Jaguar as a designer, being involved in such projects as the Jaguar XJ41, XJ220, and XJS facelift. He later moved to Peugeot and then joined TWR, where he was involved in bringing the Jaguar XJ220 into production.
If there is one downside to this book, it is the price. While well worth the approximately $150 price tag if you are a dedicated Jaguar enthusiast, that cost will obviously be too much for many. If you compare this work to most architectural and design school volumes though, which is the class I believe it falls in, that price is reasonable. This isn’t a shop manual or a quick buyer’s guide – it is a well-researched, in-depth and thorough coverage of design and style. And the presentation of the book itself lives up to the subject matter.