Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Of KODO and Takumi: Mazda's Design Secrets Revealed
Mazda vehicles of late are recognized for their stunning design, scooping up numerous international awards in the process. Everyone now knows KODO – Soul of Motion design language, but how does the company actually come out with their designs? The process may surprise you.
With KODO, Mazda is actually transforming a car turning it into a living art form. There are three basic elements to all things KODO and that’s derived from the stunning beauty of a running cheetah. The first is a stable axis, like when a cheetah’s head doesn’t move when it’s sprinting. The second is emphasis on rear traction that spreads throughout the entire body, like a cheetah’s powerful hind legs. And lastly, it’s all about the beautiful sequence of movement.
In order to transform this design into something workable on a car form, Mazda did away with traditional sketches. In the SHINARI Concept for instance, they used a sculpture to express KODO. And since Mazda treats their engineers and production people as artists as well, they challenged themselves to replicate this complex form using a stamping method, thereby preserving the elements of form and proportion that’s workable on a production car.
Today, Mazda employs Takumi or highly-skilled craftsmen to evolve the KODO form through the years. Everyone in the design team is an artist and can that range from a penciler who expresses shapes through sketches, a sculpture who shapes based on feel alone, and tailors who concentrate on the quality of the design. One thing is for certain though, they’re all very experienced individuals. The minimum to be considered as a Takumi? Five years. Clay modelers? Ten years. Some Takumi actually have more than twenty years of experience working for Mazda.
Mazda Design’s Takumi has also ventured to other shapes and forms that go outside the automobile form. They’ve actually been able to incorporate their design language to mundane things like a lounge chair, sofa, and bicycle all to great effect.
Mazda knows that it cannot transform its design in a day, but careful planning to evolve the language is key to protecting the brand for years or even decades to come. Mazda’s approach to provide driving enjoyment isn’t just limited to its engineering. Their holistic approach to design, incorporating the engineering and production aspect, has led to a boom for the brand.
The Hiroshima-based car company has pretty much removed the notion of cars as basic transportation. Instead, they’ve made them into a living machine that evokes the spirit of fun and enjoyment even before you take the wheel.