Ralph Waldo Emerson was once quoted as saying, “Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art,” and the Velar is certainly a thing of beauty.
Capitalising on the striking allure of this new offering the brilliant minds at Land Rover decided that such a unique piece of art needed the proper introduction. With this in mind, the Velar was unveiled at the Design Museum in London.
The exhibition isn’t the first time a Range Rover has been the centre of attention. Its predecessor, the first Range Rover to be introduced to the world, was revealed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, among other world-renowned works of art, at the time encapsulating the theme of ‘exemplary industrial design’.
Velar itself is an ode to the Range Rover prototypes designed by Charles Spencer King in the ‘60s. Development engineers at the time needed to hide the identity of the 26 preproduction Range Rovers, so they chose the name Velar which is derived from the Latin word velare meaning ‘to conceal or cover’.
The minimalistic style, which blends so well into modern contemporary structures, was a source of inspiration; a muse to the famous photographer Gary Bryan, whose work of the Velar was shown at the Geneva, Milan and New York motor shows. Land Rover’s chief design officer Gerry McGovern says the Velar ushers in a sense of change to the brand. “The new Range Rover Velar brings a new dimension of modernity to our brand while reinforcing our total commitment to design and engineering excellence,” he declares.
He goes on to mention that the team didn’t want to create something ordinary and that they could’ve built something slightly bigger than the Evoque or something smaller than the Sport. The Velar, which embodies reductionism, started out from something much more complex and was designed to be more refined. To McGovern, less is more and in striving in this approach, they allowed themselves to create something that is much purer.
Massimo Frascella, creative director at Jaguar Land Rover, feels working on the exterior also touched on the difficulty in achieving this purity and the reward of achieving it. “It’s also the aspect that will give you a timeless quality,” he mentions. Frascella not only wanted to acknowledge the brands past but also map a way forward.
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Modernity and technology often go hand in hand, which is why leading experts and the very best in technology were brought together to get the shape right. The team started with a clay car, modelled by a five-axis milling machine, which boasts 0.01mm accuracy, says Tom Blundell, team leader and NC model maker at Jaguar Land Rover.
Once the clay model has been perfectly sculpted, it’s then fully painted and realised to the point that anyone with an untrained eye is unable to distinguish the clay model from the real thing.
But design isn’t the only department that adds to the Velar’s overall simplicity. “As engineers, we’re fanatical about the way we design parts. Many, many sleepless nights [were spent] always thinking how we can make something better,” says product engineer manager Lee Piotrowski, who created the Velar’s flush door handles.
In the mission to truly encapsulate musical, visual and physical art mediums, designers made a point to ensure the interior is as enjoyable as its exterior. To achieve this, they brought in Orla Murphy, an acoustic engineer.
“A car is a challenging acoustic environment because you have absorbent materials like the leather in the seats and the reflective materials in the glass,” she recalls. Murphy positioned various microphones around the interior to measure how people of different heights would hear the music. Using broadband pink noise, she tested which areas of the car absorbed and reflected too much sound. “You want every note to sound equal in all the listening positions. You don’t want it to sound different to the driver or passenger,” says Murphy.
Engineering, audio and visual aspects play a massive role in the entire design ethos of the Velar, as do the electronics. With nearly 10km in electrical wiring, there’s a greater demand for all the components to work seamlessly.