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What is Reductionism?

Inspired by the New Range Rover Velar, we dig in to the less-is-more philosophy

by CH Studio
on 16 October 2017

“Reductionism is about taking away excess in design,” says Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer, and the Range Rover Velar, the brand’s newest vehicle, delivers on that maxim. From its debut at the London Design Museum to our first hands-on drive up Norway’s coast, we’ve seen and admired that bold call to action come to life. Today we’re proud to announce our partnership with Land Rover, centered on a series of videos and feature stories on reductionism in music, furniture, interface design, timepieces, beauty products, art, architecture, fashion and more. Before journeying outward we want to share how reductionism comes to life in the new Range Rover Velar.

Reductionism is about the Meisian less-is-more approach

“Land Rover is the master brand and the Range Rover family the flagship, it’s the pinnacle in terms of its luxury execution and refinement,” continues McGovern from his modernist office in Land Rover’s global headquarters and design studio in Coventry, England. “Reductionism is about the Meisian less-is-more approach,” he says, which you can see in the Velar’s clean lines and balanced proportions, flush-mounted door handles, long wheel base, minimal overhang and seductive shape. It’s unmistakably a Range Rover, yet unlike any you’ve seen before—sleeker, more refined and more elegant.

This is true with its interior as well, with its sweeping dash, clean lines, multiple screens and fewer buttons, and the new InControl Touch Pro Duo is faster and simpler than previous systems. We were intrigued by the brand’s introduction of fabric as an interior option. Vintage luxury cars used leather for drivers, but passengers were swaddled in the most luxurious textiles of the day. Over time leather became perceived as the most luxurious interior, and while the Velar offers plenty of leather options the design team felt that sophisticated owners were ready for an interior that more closely matched that of their home. “We wanted to do something where, at the very top specification, if you didn’t want leather for whatever reason there was an alternative for you,” says Amy Frascella, Land Rover’s Chief Designer for Color and Materials. “Range Rover customers know a lot about design, and textiles are very premium in the high end furniture market,” she continues.

That alternative is one of the first fabric interiors available in a modern luxury vehicle, and there really wasn’t a question about who the right partner would be: Kvadrat, the celebrated Danish textile company, offers both the technical skill and style compatibility. We wanted to learn more about the partnership so we visited Kvadrat’s headquarters in Ebeltoft, where we spoke with its CEO Anders Byriel and also visited the mill where the fabric is woven, just a few hours away from Land Rover’s headquarters and the plant in Solihull where the Velar is made.

“We are all around you,” Byriel says, even if you aren’t aware of it—in the seats you sit in at a concert hall, in your hotel room and in your living room. The brand has become more visible with its recent partnership with Bang & Olufsen and collaborations with adidas and a cadre of some of the most important designers and artists working today, including Olafur Eiliasson, Patricia Urquiola, David Adjaye, Faye Toogood and Pipilotti Rist. Byriel notes that their decades of experience in hospitality and interiors allows them to take all that they’ve learned and leverage it in creating automotive interiors. Likewise, Land Rover has been designing cars since the 1940s, and has a lot of expertise in how materials need to perform. Together, over the last three years, they’ve developed a durable yet premium textile that offers the right blend, structure and stretch to meet both performance and style requirements. “It’s like a beautiful suit,” says Byriel. “It’s comfortable and it looks really premium and tailored, like your lounge at home,” Frascella adds. “We’ve got to change the mindset about fabrics. They can be just as durable. They can be far more luxurious, incredibly hardwearing, and they can really enhance a design in ways that leather can’t,” says McGovern.

"What we’re trying to do at Land Rover through design, putting at the core of our business, is to celebrate creativity," McGovern adds, and getting in a Velar embodies that. Learn more about the Range Rover Velar here.

Inspired by the design philosophy of the new Range Rover Velar, this series of stories looks at the practice of reductionism applied to other creative mediums. Literally, reductionism is the process of taking things away to achieve a modern, minimal and simplified design. The process of reducing, however, can be quite complicated—especially when the desired outcome must remain distinctive.

Images courtesy of Land Rover

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