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Mister Modernism

Gerry McGovern, the design luminary behind Land Rover, finds his greatest inspiration in the post-World War II style

This week, design aficionados will flock to Palm Springs to take part in Modernism Week, the annual celebration of mid-century architecture and design, which runs through February 23. Over 100 events are programmed for the duration of the event, including building tours, lectures, films and parties. One of the festival’s most anticipated participants is Gerry McGovern, the design director and chief creative officer for Land Rover, who hosted a talk called “Modernism and Me,” focusing on how his life and work have been affected by the style.

Modernism Week in Palm Springs

Modernism Week in Palm Springs

“I wouldn’t call it a lecture; it’s really more of a conversation,” McGovern told DuJour. “It’s about my thoughts on Modernism and how Modernism has influenced and enriched my life and my work. I look at where those original influences came from. I grew up in a place called Coventry, which got bombed heavily in the Second World War and was completely rebuilt during the 1950s and early ’60s in an international Modernist style. It was quite an inspirational place to be for a young kid and it influenced me visually from a very early age.”

Here, the design guru behind the new Range Rover Sport shares his own favorite moments in Modernism.


The Saarinen Tulip Collection

“I love this collection because it still looks as relevant as it did when it was created. That’s one of the reasons Modernism has been so important to me: longevity. Sure, some of these things have aged, but in their essence they’re still very up to date. This collection still looks great. In fact, I’ve got it here in my office.”


The Kaufmann House in Palm Springs

“Some people would say this is an obvious choice, but there’s a lot of snobbery when it comes to Modernism, particularly when it comes to furniture. People won’t like something because it’s too popular. This was designed by Richard Neutra and built in 1948 and is the most iconic house in Palm Springs, if not the world. We managed to get our Range Rover Sport photographed in front of the house and they look of the same period, which is a massive tribute to the vision of the architect.”


Josef Albers

“I’m a lover of Modernist art. I’ve got quite a big collection, from lithographs to silk screens and paintings on canvas. One of my favorite artists is Josef Albers, who taught at the Bauhaus and was probably the founding father of printmaking. I’ve just bought a collection of his original silk screens, called Never Before, and they are absolutely fantastic.”


Italian Glass

“I’m a massive fan of midcentury Italian art glass. I love the fact that it’s hand-blown and the undulations on the surfaces, while they can look like mistakes, add to the beauty and patina. I love the Italian submurso, where they take clear glass and submerge color so it spears to be floating within.”


Range Rover Sport

“Why do I love it so much? It’s a bold evolution of a vehicle that’s arrives at iconic status. It’s much better than its predecessor—it’s lighter and also more capable and in terms of its design, it’s peerless. If I were to pick an American car, it would be a 1961 Lincoln. That was a revelation at its time.”



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