Mazda Design Chief Ikuo Maeda

2015 Tokyo Motor Show: “Preparing for the next generation,” an interview with Mazda Design Chief Maeda

If the first movement in Kodo – Soul of Motion design was represented through the CX-5, Atenza, and CX-3, the RX-Vision unveiled at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show marks the beginning of a second movement in Mazda’s design. Hence, the Roadster was designed to serve as a bridge from the first movement onto the second movement.

Thus, in order to advance towards the next step in design, the keyword that Mazda Design Chief Ikuo Maeda gave was ‘subtraction.’ While Mazda reduced the components and made it simple, they still didn’t lose the ‘movement with vitality’ concept which is consistently expressed by the Kodo – Soul of Motion. By observing the RX-Vision, you can see that it is full of dynamism.

What will happen next, then? Check out the main details in this interview with Design Chief Maeda.

—: When will the production of Mazda’s new rotary-engined sports car commence? I think the fans are anxiously waiting for it now; but for me, I don’t think it will be released anytime soon.

Maeda: We intended to design it to give that impression. We designed the RX-Vision in full swing. The only problem lies in whether our company will be able to provide our best services or not.

—: It’s been already announced that Mazda is currently developing a new rotary engine called SkyActiv-R, and has also unveiled the RX-Vision. Therefore, Mazda has to push through this, right?

Maeda: For the engineers in charge of the rotary engine development, we are proud to have this kind of technology, which is the only one in the world. We anticipate that the efforts will be paid off. But we still have many things to consider.

—: It is easy to identify the connection of subtractive designing in relation to the Roadster and the RX-Vision. But I’d like to clarify: did you incorporate subtractive designing just because this is a sports car?

Maeda: Definitely not. Subtractive designing is very significant in the growth of the Mazda design. This time, the opportunity of designing the RX-Vision has coincidentally led us to try applying it in a sports car concept. Sports cars easily express better movement in subtractive designing.

—: How would it be possible to achieve the Kodo – Soul of Motion’s second movement through the subtractive design by using this car?

Maeda: We have already resolved that matter. We just have to go on with that method. By looking at the design trend in Japanese automakers, you will notice that most of them apply the additive design method. You continuously add elements until there is nothing left to be added. Mazda wants to pursue a different path from that trend.

—: European and American designers would often ask, “In Japan, there is Zen aesthetics. So why don’t you further empower it?” But it isn’t so easy, because Zen philosophy is quite complex.

Maeda: It is quite difficult to conceptualize the Zen aesthetics. However, it goes hand in hand with the Zen spirit. That is the beauty of Japan; thus, we aimed for that. Consequently, we thought we needed to apply the subtractive design method.

—: Originally, the three keywords that described the Kodo – Soul of Motion design were “speed,” “tense,” and “alluring.” In order to pursue that description, you highlighted ‘tense’ in the CX-3’s sharp form, and the ‘alluring’ glamor and beauty of the Roadster’s curve surfaces while basically maintaining its ‘speed.’ Therefore, you expanded your concepts. Notwithstanding, Mazda also needs to strategically expand its developments for the second move.

Maeda: That will be the subject starting now; thus, we are all the more doing our best for that.

—: You always say, “We do not make designs based on our assumptions.” The Kodo – Soul of Motion’s second movement towards the RX-Vision’s design would not become just a simple variation, wouldn’t it?

Maeda: Certainly. Please do look forward to it. We will be releasing more designs that are beyond your expectations.

(Translated by Claire Marie Sausora)