flight with destination to Frankfurt (Germany) to visit something very special. Mazda Research Europe (MRE) is the name given to the R & D center of the mark in our continent. Is located on the outskirts, in the town of Oberursel, almost hidden among trees. In fact, only what we see from the road by the tower that lieth out, and that has labeled the name of the japanese firm. We don’t know yet, but this place will be a focal point for Mazda.
, We get Kevin Rice, director of design in Europe, the main bomb disposal expert, from the designs of Mazda’s most current. He returned to the brand in 2013 after spending time in the BMW and what he did with the ideas more clear than ever. Since his arrival, the design language KODO invades all models in the range. In fact, it is sufficient to talk about a couple of minutes with him to realize that the language KODO runs through their veins and that is their style of life.
KODO, design language and philosophy of life
And that’s precisely has sought to extend Mazda. Its design not only will be present in automobiles, but has been extrapolated to a multitude of everyday objects. By the walls of the MRE hanging boxes that show a sofa or a table in a particular aspect, and that have been made on the basis of the design KODO. It will not be the only thing ‘odd’ that we see. Kevin shows us a bike that stands out for its simplicity and dynamism, “this is KODO,” he says.
All of the above are ways of expressing the personality that sweeps in the japanese firm. Your car may like more or less, but when you see one on the street it is clear that it is a Mazda. It’s about making art in motion. That will be one of the keys that we find in the Mazda Research Europe, live a more passionate their designs and work from the heart. We will also be able to breathe a little of the japanese culture that have always emphasized values such as duty or honor.
clay did not go out of fashion
we Enter a giant room where we meet with an old acquaintance, the Mazda Koeru Concept. It was the one SUV with a certain air of coupe that was unveiled at the Frankfurt show in 2015 and that some compared with the BMW X4. One of its main characteristics was to bring the language KODO one step further, an evolution that looks to the future. The own Rice explains to us how to get to this result in the middle of this room whose walls are filled with sketches of all sorts of objects and prototypes.
The creative process in the japanese brand is very important. Many think that in the XXI century and with the technology that surrounds us sure that the cars are made from scratch from a computer. In other brands not what is, but in the Mazda, I can say that it is not so. The modeling clay was used years ago to see as it was a vehicle without having a 3D design program. We could think that is something that is being lost, but at the end of the hall we found Alex working the clay.
This employee seems to bsorto in your task while we walk around the room observing and making some photos. Kevin Rice explains to us that the modeling clay push the boundaries when making a model. Them allows a greater freedom and at the same time can feel their work. The truth is that it surprises the craft process and the forms that are achieved with a simple piece of clay, a few basic tools and some experienced hands. Of these forms will come the inspiration of some parts of the vehicles.
On one side, between the sketches of the walls we found a samples with various shades of red. If you think of a Mazda current, the more likely it is that you come one with this color in its body. Luciana Silvares, senior designer for colours and materials, tells us that during the last decade has not ceased to develop this color. She has worked hard until the Soul Net, the tone that you receive the latest models and in which you apply four coats of paint, to get those special light reflections.
inside you must enjoy it with the senses
we Leave behind the Mazda Koeru Concept and clay to get us into another different world. The next room will be a continuous exaltation to our senses. Dozens of colors, hundreds of textures and objects of very different themes together here. It is the place where Maria Greger, senior designer for colours and materials, and the own Luciana focus on the development of the habitat of the cars. And no, it will not be a work of the whole normal.
Returning to the creative process, this team of women will make a work more complex than it seems. Dedicated to hunting trends across all types of objects, and therefore we begin to explain the mishmash of things that are in the room. They claim that have found the inspiration even in something as mundane as the capsules of Nespresso coffee. We also have some of the materials that will be fashionable during the next few years, or the colors that you are using.
What is certain is that it takes many trials to reach what they are looking for. Have come to make a sort of ‘eggs’ that are lined with a material for each side. Claim that it is a simple solution that allows you to feel the touch of the material on a curved surface. They also talk about the importance of the temperature of these materials, or of the texture of the upholstery. In short, many variables that most people would overlook, but that are maintained to the millimeter at the time of making the interior of a car.
The shift towards the ‘Generation Seven’
After a chat of colors and textures, Kevin returns accompanied by one of his companions. Want to make us see what they are working on the last few years, the change between ‘Generation Six’ and ‘Generation Seven’. And begin freehand sketches. Through a few simple lines you will be drawing the silhouette of a car and as we explain before, the ‘Generation Six’ based on the movement. A few shaded in color and there is a nice design done in just a couple of minutes.
Begins the second sketch that will correspond to the ‘Generation Seven’, which is the one that will be present in the next few years. The simplicity and purity are the keys of this new movement, still framed in the language of design KODO. With the first strokes already we began to notice differences: a longer hood, the cab delayed, or an ‘S’ hidden in the side. It is impossible not to start thinking about the Mazda RX-Vision, this prototype that is in the air and that we’d all like to see in the street picking up the rotary engine Skyactiv-R
After the master-class of design freehand we are all so enthusiastic that we ask for copies of the sketches. Although it may seem surprising, with this technique, something similar that with the clay. Allows the designer more freedom and more ease to express their feelings. Obviously then come work with computers and a 3D design is more elaborate, but the principle is a simple drawing as you can see in the pictures.
The visit to the Mazda Research Europe has gone by so quickly and already there is little left to finish. In one of the hallways of the R & D center, something called our attention. We find what appears to be a unit of pre-the Mazda MX-5 RF. The version with a retractable hardtop that is coming soon to the market is resting peacefully, until we ask that we to teach the operation of your ceiling. And we have the chance to see live as it unfolds and shows your silhouette targa.
Now ends visit quite enlightening that will bring us closer to the creation process of a car. In Mazda has been known to bring a unique personality to your models and it seems that the key is in the emotions. To apply the design language of KODO have to feel it and it seems that Kevin and his entire team have been soaked out of him and take it as a philosophy of life. We are sure that from now on, every time you look at out a new model of the japanese brand a part of our head will travel back to Oberursel.
Gallery of images of the Mazda Research Europe