Skid Marks

Mazda Design Forum 2018: Beauty is in the details

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At the recently concluded Mazda Design Forum 2018 held in Bangkok, Thailand, Mazda displayed various pieces of art that showed the small but proud company’s design language and where it is taking it—along with the rest of their new cars’ lineup—into the future.

As a brand, the Hiroshima-based manufacturer is small, but very proud of its design and engineering prowess.

Its cars are unique, and embody cutting-edge design fused with Japanese minimalism and soul.

It’s not a generically-appealing design such as, say, your typical Toyota or Honda, but a design that truly pushes the envelope for mass-market consumption.

This strength in design language, as well as its engineering prowess, has helped Mazda gain a very strong and powerful, not to mention, valuable brand equity.

Many of Mazda’s clients are loyal clients who value the brand’s engineering and design prowess, which greatly affects driving pleasure, another Mazda core strength.

For years, we’d been teased by Mazda’s RX Vision and Vision Coupe concept cars, and has left us wondering whether the brand will ever revive their flagship GT/sportscar model: Was the RX-Vision and Vision Coupe the thinly disguised GT/sportscar? And will the flagship GT/sportscar still be rotary powered?

Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves. Suffice to say, Mazda will continue to tease us if and when they do decide to release these in production form.

Until then, we should be happy to note that all future Mazda vehicles (the upcoming next-generation CX-3 and Mazda 3, for example, are quite on the horizon) will bear an even more striking resemblance to these gorgeous concept cars.

Mazda chose Bangkok as the venue for their design forum, thanks to the brand’s strength in the Thai automotive market.

Mazda holds the third highest position in market share in Thailand, and is the sales leader in Thailand’s small-car segment.

The Kodo Soul Of Motion Design Theme, first unveiled in 2010, is Mazda’s design trump card: It aims to display dynamism and energy in a still body, like how a master swordsman or archer concentrates before unsheathing his sword for battle, or launching an arrow from a great distance.

There is power, tension, focus and energy waiting to be unleashed, but there is calm and tranquility that soothes this pent-up energy.

The design has two guiding principles: the beauty of empty space, and the interplay of light and shadow.

Coupled with Mazda’s impressive SkyActiv technology, the brand has won fans throughout the world.

In the Philippines, Mazda sits at the top 10 for market share, with 5,244 cars sold in 2017, a 28 percent increase over the previous year.

Contrary to popular notion of computerized CAD/CAM and 3D modelling in today’s highly digitized and fast-paced world, Mazda general manager for Design Division Yasushi Nakamuta says Mazda designers start their work on what they call a goshintai, a full-sized clay-based three-dimensional sculpture that traces its roots to the old Japanese Shinto belief considered as an object of worship.

From there, designers fill in the details, like the cabin space, ergonomics, design, wheel size, and so on.

This technique is slower, but more details can be seen and observed, and probably allows designers to put more of their soul into this endeavor, creating the most beautiful possible design given the available space.

Despite being a very Japanese firm, Mazda actually has three design studios worldwide working independently, but obviously sharing best practices, and all supervised directly by Mazda’s overall design chief, Ikuo Maeda.

This helps to gather flavor and trends from local markets, and infuse them into the Kodo design theme.

Aside from cars, Mazda also displayed other objects that featured the Kodo: Soul of Motion design language. This included a bicycle, sofa, and other sculptural pieces.

Even as a non-car guy, a casual observer with even a passing interest in beautiful and tasteful design would have appreciated the Mazda Design Forum.

Beauty is universal indeed, be it in any structure—a car, scenery or artistic sculpture.

Here’s hoping Mazda Philippines can bring the forum to the Philippines someday, as car enthusiasts and art fans will truly enjoy such as event.



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