Land Rovers have always been icons of design on the outside, but one part of them that doesn’t get as much attention is the interesting interior materials they used over the years. Now a collaboration at The Design Museum in London is giving Land Rover upholstery the credit it’s due, by re-covering the benches in the museum’s atrium with 18 different seat fabrics from the past 70 years.
The textures begin with the green vinyl from the Series I, which is usually associated with the spade shovel-shaped seat backs from those trucks. They move on to the RAF Blue vinyl from a Series II, and the “elephant hide” seat material from a Series III – a grey vinyl with a texture that hints at elephant skin, no elephants harmed here.
In the modern era, there’s the Sonar Blue fabric from the first Discovery I in 1989, a shade that defined the new vehicle’s Sir Terence Conran-designed, British Design Award-winning interior. The black cloth that many associate with the upright seats in a Defender contrasts with the multi-hued cloth from the one-off 2015 Defender customized by British designer Sir Paul Smith -- a patchwork tribute that drew on 27 exterior colors tied to the retiring truck's 68-year history.
Coming all the way to 2018, there’s the high-end Windsor leather from the current Range Rover line, the quilted leather from the extremely-limited 2018 Range Rover SV Coupe, and perhaps the most interesting of them all: the Kvadrat fabric that’s available on the Range Rover Velar, a vegan-friendly synthetic wool that’s warm in summer and cool in winter.
It’s nice to see some of the unsung heroes of Land Rover design celebrated. The silhouette of a Defender or Range Rover gets so much attention, for good reason, but there have been a lot of innovations inside to celebrate over 70 years, too.
If you'll be in London any time soon, more information on the exhibit is available on The Design Museum's website.
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