Rob Melville gets promotion as McLaren design chief upon Stephenson’s departure

Article by Christian A., on June 1, 2017

Frank Stephenson might not be a household name, but he is one of the most revered car designers of our time. He had been the Design Director at McLaren Automotive since 2008 where he helped oversee the styling of most of the British company's current gen vehicles including the 12 to the trendy 720S. However, this stage of his McLaren's designer career has come to an end, as leading German magazine Auto Motor Und Sport reported that Stephenson is allegedly quitting his position and will supposedly rejoin Mini where he was the designated chief designer until 2002.

McLaren recently announced to the public that Rob Melville will be appointed as the new McLaren's Design Director. Melville had been handling Sports Series and second-gen Super Series of cars leading up to the promotion which includes the P1, 570S, 650S, 675LT and the most recent responsibility of leading the design team of the new 720S. He joined the British Company as a Senior Designer in 2009.

But before working with McLaren, he served at Jaguar Land Rover as part of the Advanced Design team that worked on penning the dapper Range Rover Evoque. Melville also became part of General Motors in U.K as a Senior Creative Designer in 2006, and at that time he assisted in designing cars including the Hummer H2, Chevrolet Corvette and the Cadillac Converj.

Stephenson had taken time away from his responsibility at the British automotive company due to personal matters, and now possibly jumping ship over to the Mini team. He was responsible for creating the iconic 2001 Mini Cooper, a design that he completed shortly before leaving in 2002. He will supervise the design of 14 brand new models before 2022 as McLaren's new appointed Design Director, as part of the Track22 business plan that totals up to a whopping $1.4 billion. The plan is set to include a new "LT" sub-brand, an electric supercar and likely a P1 replacement.

Melville himself is looking forward to his new appointment; he said that he is thrilled to be bestowed the title of Design Director for McLaren Automotive, and he remembered that when he got the call to join McLaren back in 2009, the joy he experienced then is the same as today. He further added that they have developed an incredible design team and have mixed a design philosophy that he feels passionately about. He also said that he has always believed that a skillful design conveys a great story and this is what they do in McLaren.

Meanwhile, the new Design Director will carry on with the introduction of the recent design DNA that is found in the 720S throughout the rest of the next-gen vehicles. Though this is a big decision coming from McLaren, it is expected that the British automotive company will eventually have a sturdy hold on things with Melville's supervision.

Press Release

Rob Melville appointed Design Director of McLaren Automotive

Rob joined McLaren Automotive in 2009 as Senior Designer, rising to Chief Designer in 2014. During his time at McLaren, Rob has worked on the McLaren P1™, the evolution of the 12C into the 650S, the 675LT, and was responsible for the Sports Series which won the ‘Best of the Best’ category in the coveted Red Dot design awards in 2016. Most recently he led the design of the 720S, the first model in the second-generation Super Series.

As Design Director, his new role makes Rob responsible for further developing the company’s design strategy, philosophy and principles working with the engineering and manufacturing functions, as well as the customer insights team. Another 14 new models or derivatives are promised under the Track22 business plan.

Rob commented: “I am thrilled to be given the title of Design Director for McLaren Automotive. I remember when I got the call to come and join McLaren back in 2009 and the joy I felt then is the same today. We have developed a fantastic design team and have integrated a design philosophy that I feel passionately about. I have always believed that great design tells a great story and that is what we do here at McLaren. I’m incredibly proud.”

Recently Rob initiated the design pillars of McLaren Automotive which instil the brand’s DNA through the design process. These pillars form the main ethos from which the team create breath-taking products that tell the visual story of their function. Implemented under Rob’s direction, the design pillars outline the core design principals of everything for a reason, functional jewellery, truth to materials, perfect proportions and always to be brave.

Prior to McLaren, Rob started his career at Jaguar Land Rover where his sketches and clay were chosen for the LRX Concept Vehicle which led to the Evoque production car. He later joined GM as Senior Designer within their UK Advanced Design Group. As a key part of the creative team he was responsible for evolving and realising the Cadillac design principles and philosophy across the product portfolio, including the Cadillac Converj project.

Frank Stephenson has decided to leave McLaren Automotive. The company wishes him well with his future and extends its thanks for the contribution he has made.

Source: McLaren

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Topics: mclaren, design



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