Geoff Lawson (designer)


Geoff Lawson (designer)

Geoff Lawson was a British car designer who is best known for serving as Design Director for Jaguar between 1989 until his death. He passed away in June 1999 and is survived by a wife and two children. He is succeeded at Jaguar by Ian Callum.

Background

Lawson was born in Leicester, England in 1944. He studied Design at the Leicester College of Art before completing a masters’ degree in furniture design at the Royal College of Art, London. A man of diverse hobbies and interests, he was interested in American cars, guns and shooting, model making, guitar playing and guitar design, mountain biking, abstract art and sculpture. [ Geoff Lawson 1944-1999, Coventry Warwickshire News, 29 June 1999, [http://www.cwn.org.uk/motoring/jaguar/9906/990629-geoff-lawson.htm] , accessed 2 July 2008 ]

Career

General Motors

After graduating from the RCA, he joined the British subsidiary of General Motors, Vauxhall, as a designer where he worked on various passenger cars and commercial vehicles. His work included many European and American projects, and he progressed to Chief Designer level.

Jaguar

In 1984, he joined Jaguar as Director of Styling, where he arguably produced his best known and most influential work. He joined at a time when Jaguar was haemorrhaging money and its reputation of design and manufacturing excellence was seriously fading after decades of neglect, forcing a subsequent takeover by Ford in 1989. [Geoff Lawson, 54, Dies; Designer of New Jaguar Line, New York Times, 5 July 1999, [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9902EFD9103DF936A35754C0A96F958260] , accessed 2 July 2008] During his 15 years at Jaguar he was responsible for shaping the entire Jaguar line up, including the 1992 XJ220 supercar, the 1995 XJ luxury saloon, the 1996 XK grand tourer, and the 1998 S-Type mid-size saloon. Before his death, he also supervised the styling of the 2001 X-Type compact saloon, and the completely new aluminium-bodied 2002 XJ. Lawson played a significant role in the commercial revival of the company, which in the last decade went from basket case to record sales and a new found reputation for good quality. [ Ibid. ] This turnaround led to parent-company Ford, and Jaguar's then chairman Wolfgang Reitzle, to set ambitious sales targets in the belief that Jaguar could become a major luxury car manufacturer in the mould of Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.

Legacy

He won numerous awards for his designs at Jaguar and also led a major expansion of the company’s styling resources and facilities at their Whitley Engineering Centre. [ Business: The Company File - Jaguar’s Chief Designer Dies, BBC News, 25 June 1999, [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/the_company_file/378273.stm] , accessed 2 July 2008] In June 2000, Jaguar opened the Geoff Lawson Studio in his memory in Whitley, Coventry, which is responsible for producing future Jaguar concept cars. [The Geoff Lawson Studio – Jaguar Advanced Design, Car Design News, [http://archive.cardesignnews.com/news/2000/000601jaguar-studio/index.html] , accessed 2 July 2008] In addition, Jaguar endowed a scholarship at the RCA, ‘The Geoff Lawson Jaguar Scholarship’ in his honour to celebrate his achievements at Jaguar. [ Ibid. ]

References


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