Coachlines - December 2020

21.12.20 Liveryman Eric Wallbank

An enjoyable and fascinating evening with our own Giles Taylor, internationally-renowned car designer

Liverymen and a number of Masters of other Liveries had the pleasure of an informative and insightful ‘off-the-record’ evening with Giles Taylor, internationally-renowned car designer.

Giles is well-known to the Livery, having been the recipient of the Coachmakers’ 1989 Motor Car Centenary Bursary Award Winner and is a Court Assistant of the Livery.
On leaving the RCA he started his career designing for Automobiles Citroën in Paris, and he talked about working with the French brand and having a key role on well-known mass-produced cars such as the Xara and the C3, both of which sold in significant numbers at a critical time for Citroën.

He moved to Jaguar under Geoff Lawson and then fellow Liveryman Ian Callum, and worked on vehicles important in revitalising the Jaguar brand – the XK and the outgoing XJ saloon. Moving to Rolls-Royce Motor Cars as Director of Design, he was responsible for the successful Phantom 8, Ghost and Cullinan SUV. The route to market for some of these vehicles was often fraught with issues that the layman would not be aware of, with vehicles needing to satisfy marketing, engineering, manufacturing and finance to be given the go-ahead.

Giles is currently Vice President of Design for FAW China and responsible for three significant brands at the forefront of the highly competitive automotive market in China, based at its Munich Design Centre.

It became clear that the role of a car designer is highly competitive, where a designer is only as good as their last project, and where most of the creative work ends up never seeing the light of day. Legislation, particularly in Europe, drives and constrains vehicle design. The talk also outlined some of the challenges and opportunities for the future of car design, where it seems we are at a tipping point, not only in vehicle design as we move away from the internal combustion engine, but also in the way vehicles are designed, the whole process being accelerated using virtual design tools.

There was time for some probing and wide-ranging questions and informal discussion which could have carried on into the night before the Master wound up proceedings, thanking Giles for his time and insights on a fascinating evening.