The Coventry-born design guru is being recognised for his achievements as a leader of innovation in car design – in particular at Land Rover where his projects include the Freelander, Range Rover Evoque, Range Rover L405, Range Rover Sport L494 and Discovery Sport.
— Coventry University (@covcampus) 13 April 2016
Form vs Function
Speaking to Director magazine last year about his return to Land Rover in 2004, he said: ‘I found a company very much in the mould of the Land Rover I’d left – a company that had its roots in functionalism, where design played second fiddle to function, to engineering.’
Some may wish it had remained that way, but McGovern has developed a proven track record for designing Land Rovers that drop jaws and sell by the lorryload.
A Coventry boy
McGovern, who was born in Coventry and attended Binley Park School, went on to earn a degree in industrial design from Coventry University (then Lanchester Polytechnic) in 1975.
He then moved to the Royal College of Art for a masters degree in automotive design, before beginning his professional career designing for Chrysler in Detroit. In 1980 he returned to the UK as senior designer for the Peugeot Chrysler Group.
He joined Land Rover as Director of Advanced Design in 2004. His current roles of Design Director and Chief Creative Officer give him a remit that includes developing the look and feel of the Land Rover brand as a whole, as well as leading the design of individual vehicles.
‘While travelling the world working at the highest level in automotive design I have never forgotten my Coventry roots, so it is a great privilege to be bestowed an honorary doctorate of arts by Coventry University,’ says McGovern. ‘It gives me a great sense of pride to be recognised by the city where I was brought up, and my parents would have been very proud.’
Keeping the West Midlands firmly on the map
Professor Seymour Roworth-Stokes, executive dean of the University’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities, said:
‘Gerry’s impact and influence on automotive design not only as a profession, but also as a central and emphatic part of a car maker’s entire brand, is unrivalled in the industry.
‘His design leadership at Land Rover has played a significant role in making Jaguar Land Rover one of the most successful and noted vehicle manufacturers in the world today, and is ensuring Britain – and indeed the West Midlands – is firmly on the global map for automotive and industrial innovation, where it belongs.
‘Many of our students and graduates from our automotive and transport design course continue to enjoy the benefits of the close ties the University has with Jaguar Land Rover’s design operations – from visiting lectures, clay modelling support and work placement opportunities – and in Gerry they have an inspirational figure to aspire after.’
Gerry will receive his honorary doctorate during the University’s graduation ceremony in Coventry Cathedral today, alongside over 1000 graduates being awarded their degrees.
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