Beautiful design has always been at the heart of Jaguar, exciting proportions, elegant form and innovative luxury. But how Jaguar achieves its design leadership has always been a closely guarded secret behind closed doors at Whitley.
With Jaguar Design moving to a new studio at the Gaydon Design and Engineering Centre they opened their doors to give a unique insight to the fascinating journey that will bring next-generation Jaguar vehicles to showrooms, from initial sketching and clay sculpting to final engineering.
Across six-stages of design exterior and interior teams collaborate throughout a well-defined process that can move from inspirational first sketch to finished car in around four years.
Designers never stop sketching. Pen, pencil or tablet, the studio team is constantly generating new interior and exterior ideas for future products.
The design process for a future Jaguar starts with an internal competition that sees designers from across the studio produce their best sketches before entries are whittled down to a shortlist.
On each project, up to eight exterior sketches will be taken through to the next stage, each demonstrating a different theme and approach. Computer Aided Surfacing specialists then create a digital version of the initial renders. This data is used to accurately mill the clay models.
The teams can go from sketch to full size clay model in only two weeks. Moving quickly into a physical three-dimensional model is very important, because Jaguar design has always had proportion and sculpture at its core.
The designers who sketch the winning ideas stay with the project from first sketch to production car, ensuring the creative spark behind the original vision is maintained throughout the process.
Clay sculpting is the lifeblood of the design studio with the sketches and engineering data turned into physical assets at this stage. An expert team of 46 sculptors, ranging from long term employees to new talent coming through apprenticeships, add the human touch, to bring the sketches to life.
Each of the designers is given half of a full size exterior and is paired up with a clay team to bring their vision to reality. One sculptor will focus on the front, two on the side and another on the rear, though all sculptors are capable of working on any aspect of an exterior design. Following review, three different themes will be continued into a full clay with one final design signed off for further refinements to be made.
Alongside the exterior models, individual parts like seats and steering wheels and even full size interiors, are also sculpted from clay.
Using carbon fibre and sprung steel splines, the tools used to precisely shape the clay, the team handcraft each clay to perfect their designs. The clay models are constantly scanned with data re-inputted to computer software to ensure engineering points are met, with clay sculptors operating to tolerances of 0.2mm. As designs are perfected, clay models can be wrapped and painted to bring them to life. 3D rapid printed parts can be produced to help bring some of the beautiful details to life quickly and at an early stage.
Digitalisation is integrated into every stage of the process from sketching through to launch animations.
From the early conceptual stage, the Computer-Aided Surfacing team convert the design sketches into digital 3D models, gradually evolving the designs as the Design Technical team releases engineering and packaging data. The data is then used to create the clay models with real world refinements then scanned back into the CAS teams for further mathematical adjustments. The CAS team then exports the surface data ready for the model to go into production.
As the design evolves virtual reality and augmented reality are used to advise on interior details such as headlinings, seat movements, active aerodynamics and the lighting and infotainment screen start-up sequences.
Colour and materials
The car design process extends beyond exterior and interior appearance. The colour and materials team are focussed on developing innovative new interior and exterior materials and finishes and is made up of experts from the world of automotive, fashion, jewellery and product design. At the heart of their work sits Jaguar’s interpretation of ‘Britishness’ an overwhelmingly positive and differentiating brand attribute.
Megatrend research helps inform the team of what is next as well as helping predict the colour and materials that customers will want by the time a vehicle has finished its four year design journey.
Design technical looks at creative ways to deliver the team’s vision by developing design enabling technologies and solutions from the very beginning of the process. This group of creative engineers sits at the centre of the design function to support the entire studio, helping to make even the most ambitious design a production reality.
Basically, their job is to make sure the designs are feasible, identifying physical and legislative challenges and finding creative solutions to them with the aim of making the transition from sketchpad to production a smooth one. Their understanding of the latest safety and sustainability requirements ensure the team is delivering plausible designs, covering everything from packaging and design-enabling tech to powertrain considerations.
Jaguar Design doesn’t just rely on clay sculpting to develop its vehicles, other full-scale models are created by the studio throughout the process. These interior and exterior models are used to evaluate size and proportion and are developed from initial concept sketches. When one design is selected as the vision, a new model is created from milled resin, with non-functioning 3D printed lamps, grilles, mirrors and wheels with unique trims, production quality paint and plexi-glass glazing. These models help to focus the business and can be used for market research and to ensure all engineering tolerances are met.
The next step is the Aesthetic Confirmation Models, produced when the design theme is frozen. These models feature a higher level of detail such as milled metal components and functioning lamps and are developed following design themes being refined and engineering feasibility work being completed.
The final model is the incredibly detailed customer design reference model, a full interior and exterior model, which can be driven at low speeds. It is created ahead of the vehicle launch to showcase the vehicle before a full production version is available. It is built on a bespoke chassis with a body structure made up of a mix of carbon fibre and glass fibre, with fully functioning lamps, one off machined aluminium wheels and a fully trimmed interior complete with functioning displays.