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Jaguar designers share how COVID-19 has shaped their philosophies

Exterior design manager Paven Patel sketches an image of a Jaguar. Image credit: Jaguar


British automaker Jaguar Land Rover has released a video series showing how COVID-19 has changed the lives and creative processes of its designers in a bid to emphasize its focus on values-based design.

Many automakers have faced financial shortfalls as a result of the pandemic, which has also accelerated changes in consumer behaviors. Jaguar’s design pledge campaign is likely to resonate with the growing number of affluents who are interested in luxury brands that share similar values.

"Like most brands during this global pandemic, Jaguar wants to send a message to its current and its potential customers that it recognizes the unique situation the world finds itself in," said David Undercoffler, editor in chief of Autolist.com, San Francisco. 

Design pledges
In the one-minute vignettes, Jaguar’s relatively new design director Julian Thomson and four of his associates each share how COVID-19 has forced them to change their approach to their work.

The brief videos include sit-down interviews as well as b-roll of Jaguar’s designers at work. A disclaimer notes that some scenes were filmed prior to pandemic-era social distancing regulations were put in place.

“In the past, these events have led to great periods of reflection,” Mr. Thomson says in his spot. “There’s a real clarity about what’s important.”

Mr. Thomson, who formerly worked at Lotus, said he hoped the crisis would inspire a design renaissance.

Julian Thomson oversees design at Jaguar.

A renewed commitment to sustainability, comfort and detail plus a willingness to buck convention are other philosophies gaining more traction at Jaguar amid the lingering pandemic.

Design strategist Lizete Druka says that what her team will take away from the crisis is noticing the beauty in the small and in the everyday and will in turn, incorporate its new awareness into car design.

In another short, Paven Patel, exterior design manager, remarks that sketching his designs from his kitchen table has been a surreal experience. However, it has made him realize that creativity can happen anywhere, but it is in the studio that collaboration happens and ideas solidify into plans.

Mr. Rosati is looking to challenge convention at Jaguar.

Brand design manager Andrea Rosati shares that he is looking to upend conventions post the pandemic’s arrival.

“We live in a world where there’s not any more business as usual. There’s not any more life as usual,” he says. “I don’t want to just sit down and do my own job. I just want to make something that has cultural relevance for the future.”

Inspired by the sustainability efforts seen in other industries, Mr. Rosati is hoping to bring a touch of that to the automotive sector.

“So many brands are doing so much in terms of processes and sustainability,” he said.

Lastly, Louise Thorburn, color and materials designer, says that working from home has made her realize how an attempt to translate safety, security and comfort has to be directed at the cars Jaguar is designing. “Comfort, well-being, safety and security are a new thing,” she said.

The art of design at Jaguar. Image credit: Jaguar

Design mindsets
Sustainability, transparency about its process and values-based design are at the top of Jaguar’s agenda, particularly when it comes to marketing campaigns.

This year, for instance, brought news of Jaguar giving viewers a glimpse of an unseen world through a series of 15-second films on the Sky Documentaries channel highlighting various elements of the carmaker's design and development process.

The commercials form part of Jaguar's marketing outreach to the United Kingdom after a bruising COVID-19 lockdown that has impacted business.

Jaguar’s last documentary project, titled “Jaguar: Going Electric,” covered the development of its all-electric Jaguar I-PACE car and is now available to download on Amazon Prime.

Similar to the interviews with its design team, the deal with Sky Documentaries is in line with contemporary trends to pull back the curtain on the manufacturing process behind some of the most iconic luxury brands worldwide, including those in watches and jewelry, automotive, and fashion and leather goods (see story).

When the economy sustains a recovery, analysts from Forrester predict that consumers will further look to patronize values-based brands. This shift is a result of shoppers having spent more time about the environment and other social issues during the pandemic (see story).

"No brand wants to sound tone deaf right now, particularly a luxury brand during a health crisis that is disproportionately affecting lower-income individuals," Autolist's Mr. Undercoffler said.