IAN CAL­LUM

Car de­signer, 63

Esquire (Malaysia) - - WHAT I'VE LEARNED - IN­TER­VIEW BY BEN MITCHELL PHO­TO­GRAPH BY DAVID VIN­TINER

I’m dis­cov­er­ing who I am ev­ery day, which is en­light­en­ing and fright­en­ing. You know, my phys­i­cal be­ing, I’m a car de­signer. I’m chief de­signer for Jaguar. I’ve got here through good for­tune more than any­thing.

I grew up in a small town in Scot­land called Dum­fries. A provin­cial place, re­ally. A mar­ket town. My dad was a so­lic­i­tor. My mother was a li­brar­ian. My fa­ther was a lot older than my mother. He had quite strin­gent val­ues in terms of dis­ci­pline and such­like. What that in­stilled in me was a re­bel­lious­ness, which I still have. As I got to know my mother a lit­tle bit later in the years, I re­alised I got that from her. There are cars that I re­ally ad­mire hugely. Most of them I don’t, though. If I can do a bet­ter job my­self then I don’t ad­mire it.

Which film makes me cry? Oh my good­ness! Af­ter a cou­ple of gin and ton­ics, prob­a­bly most of them.

The best thing about get­ting older is liv­ing life more ap­pre­cia­tively and not re­ally car­ing that much about what other peo­ple think any more. That’s a huge re­lief. Of course you care—ev­ery­body’s got an ego, that’s just hu­man na­ture— but I worry less than I did in my twen­ties by a long way.

I’m con­stantly tidy­ing up. I don’t like mess.

My brother has got a real job, which is vice-pres­i­dent of de­sign for Ford. That’s a very fine ti­tle, isn’t it?

David Bowie trig­gered that sense of imag­i­na­tion that I prob­a­bly wouldn’t have other­wise found. When you dis­cov­ered some­body else ad­mired him you’d think, “You can’t! He’s my best friend.” I never saw him, never met him. It’s a shame, re­ally, but he was in­spir­ing. Ab­so­lutely in­spir­ing.

I did draw­ing and paint­ing at art col­lege. It was part of the cur­ricu­lum and I en­joyed it tremen­dously. When we were asked to do a still life for home­work I’d come back with a pic­ture of a hi-fi with speak­ers, a vac­uum cleaner or a kitchen. I found these much more in­ter­est­ing than a bowl of fruit.

I used to love cheese—es­pe­cially blue—but I stopped eat­ing dairy for health rea­sons. When the cheese and bis­cuits come at the end of a meal I re­sist. It’s a sad thing.

Be­ing able to stand up and talk to 1,000 peo­ple and not worry about it; that is one of the most pow­er­ful things you could want to be able to do. I taught my­self how to com­mu­ni­cate. I forced my­self into it. It was quite a pain­ful ex­pe­ri­ence be­cause I was ex­tremely shy. It was ter­ri­fy­ing. I just threw my­self into any op­por­tu­nity that I could.

At a very young age, I de­cided I was go­ing to be a car de­signer. I went to pri­mary school and took a draw­ing in to my teacher and said, “This is what I want to do when I grow up, miss.” She said, “Yeah, OK Ian, we’ll talk about that later.” We never did.

I’ve got about 25 pairs of shoes. Some I’ve never worn more than once, but I think a lot of peo­ple are like that with shoes.

What’s im­por­tant to me? I some­times won­der. I’ve been for­tu­nate. I got to do what I wanted to do and I think, “Right, you’ve done it. What is your next big ad­ven­ture?” Be­cause you’ve got to find one. I don’t know what it is yet. It’ll dawn on me one day. I’m glad to say that there’s still some search­ing go­ing on even at this stage in life.

The suit is a lazy op­tion. You have three or four suits and you can just change from one day to the next. I don’t like any of my suits any more. They don’t fit very well. They’re not of the right cut. Just a bit too tra­di­tional.

The one thing I’m good at is putting my­self in another per­son’s place and ask­ing how he or she is feel­ing at that mo­ment. Em­pa­thy is a big part of my life, and it ir­ri­tates me when other peo­ple can’t do that.

I have a nice gui­tar. It’s an acous­tic; not an elec­tric one hang­ing on the wall or any­thing. I’ve never learned to play it but I should. It’s one of those things. The other is to learn to speak Ital­ian prop­erly.

I’m not a church­goer but I be­lieve in some­thing more than us. A greater force.

If some­thing’s go­ing wrong I do some­thing about it. It doesn’t frighten me. You go through ups and downs, quite se­vere pitches and highs and lows — I cer­tainly have — but the thing with ex­pe­ri­ence is you know you’re go­ing to get through it as long as you work it out. It’ll be all right.

I rushed to­wards adult­hood be­cause I wanted to get on with the job I had in mind. School was just a means to an end.

When you lose your hair, it makes a dif­fer­ence to your char­ac­ter. There’s no doubt. It makes you re­alise you’ve got to work at dif­fer­ent things. Smile more. Be a lit­tle bit more gre­gar­i­ous.

Peo­ple who drive in the mid­dle lane of the mo­tor­way in­fu­ri­ate me. This may sound odd but there’s a need for or­der. I find peo­ple who don’t re­spect the or­der, who are af­fect­ing oth­ers, very ir­ri­tat­ing. It prob­a­bly seems a bit trite but that’s a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple.

I spent a lot of time with my sons when I could but I didn’t get that bal­ance right. I should have given them more time, and less for me. I’d be a much bet­ter fa­ther now.

When you reach that big six-zero you be­come con­scious of the fact you’ve got to live and make the most of it. You con­sider when your par­ents leave this world and start re­lat­ing to that. My mother didn’t die un­til she was 85, so I feel I’ve got a bit of scope yet. My fa­ther died when he was about 70, which makes my life a bit scary some­times. I don’t think too much about it to be hon­est.

I’m a direc­tor now. It’s not a one-man show any more. Some­times I wish I could go into a room and de­sign my own car again, which I have done en­tirely. With what? The DB7… and Van­quish. Mostly As­ton Martins. That was just me in a shed with six mod­ellers.

At a cer­tain point in life you want to get rid of things rather than own more. I find that quite lib­er­at­ing.

I had a car sticker once. It said, “My other car is a 2CV”. That was on my Sierra Cos­worth. I had a 2CV as well.

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