Ian Callum is a British car designer who has worked for Ford, TWR, Aston Martin, and is currently (2016) the Director of Design for Jaguar Cars. His younger brother Moray Callum is Ford Executive Director of Design, Americas.
Callum was born in Dumfries, Scotland, in 1954. In 1968 (at the age of 14) he submitted a car design to Jaguar in the hope of landing a job. Callum studied at Lanchester Polytechnic's (now Coventry University) School of Transportation Design in Coventry, Aberdeen Art College and the Glasgow School of Art, where he graduated with a degree in Industrial Design. He subsequently graduated from the Royal College of Art in London with a post-graduate Masters degree in Vehicle Design.
From 1979 to 1990, he worked at Ford working between Dunton, Japan, Italy and Australia, mainly working on ‘bits of cars, mostly steering wheels’. As well as working on bread-and-butter Fiestas and Mondeos, he contributed to image builders such as the RS200 and Escort RS Cosworth, the last of which he is especially proud of and with which he collaborated with fellow RCA graduate Peter Horbury. He was then appointed Design Manager responsible for the Ghia Design Studio in Turin and worked on the Via, Zig and Zag show car concepts.
"Some of my colleagues came to see me from Ford, and I’d walked away from this giant studio at Dunton, the corporation, all that stuff, into this little tin shed in Kidlington. They thought I was utterly mad. But I was as happy as could be, I was doing something I wanted to do."
In 1991, he was appointed Chief Designer and General Manager of TWR Design. During this period he was partially responsible for designing the Aston Martin DB7, which is probably the design he is currently most famous for. He also designed the Aston Martin Vanquish, the V12-powered DB7 Vantage and Aston Martin's Project Vantage concept car as well as taking responsibility for a wide range of design programs for other TWR clients, including Volvo, Mazda and HSV. He was awarded the Jim Clark Memorial Award in 1995 in recognition of his styling work on the DB7. In 1998, he designed the Nissan R390.
In 1999, Callum was appointed to succeed the late Geoff Lawson as Design Director at Jaguar, which had become a Ford Motor Company subsidiary in 1990. For a short stint, Callum directed design at both Jaguar and Aston Martin and it is claimed that he laid the foundations for the DB9 which was later finished by Henrik Fisker, though the extent of his contribution remains unclear. At Jaguar, since the Lawson designed 2001 X-Type and 2002 XJ were well advanced his influence was initially felt through a series of concepts, the 2001 R-Coupe and 2003 R-D6. The first production Jaguar to bear his influence was the 2004 facelift of the S-Type followed by the 2004 X-Type Estate, of which he was responsible for the tailgate design.
With the next generation of Jaguar models Callum took Jaguar away from the Lawson-era retroism, which produced the more traditional-looking X-Type, S-Type, and XJ, towards a new style. This began with the 2006 XK, which bears striking similarity to the Aston Martin DB9, which Callum describes as being a result of modern safety legislation. This new direction is continued with the 2008 XF as previewed by the concept C-XF, which Callum describes as the 'next significant step forward' in Jaguar's design direction, and the 2010 XJ. He also oversaw the design for the 2010 C-X75 concept car and the 2013 F-Type.
According to Callum, ‘Jaguars should be perceived as cool cars and cool cars attract interesting, edgy people.’ The quality of Callum's work at Jaguar has been acknowledged by twice Le Mans 24 hours winner and fellow Dumfries native, Allan McNish.
In 2006, he was honoured with a Royal Designer for Industry (RDI) award from the Royal Society of Arts and was joint recipient with his brother of the Jim Clark Memorial trophy, awarded annually to Scots who have made a major contribution to the world of motoring.
Callum was named one of "The Men of the Year 2012" by Top Gear magazine for designing beautiful cars.