It is really interesting to observe car companies and their respective design efforts, and it is relatively easy to read a lot into that as well. Take for instance Mazda and this Mazda3. After Laurens van den Acker left for Renault, Mazda appointed Ikuo Maeda as new Design Chief and under his direction the new design language of KODO was introduced.
‘KODO – Soul of Motion’
KODO captures the very instant energy becomes motion. It’s the muscular beauty you see when an animal pounces, or when a human leaps into action.
Everywhere you look, this dynamic poise is enhanced by elegant detail. The five-point grille, defining body lines and powerful stance all show our design philosophy in action.
It all sounds very beautiful, but with my naive eyes I see an attempt to continue the design language introduced but executed with less confidence. Gone are the self-assured, slightly over-styled waves in surfaces, the confident treatment of lines and surfaces, and in it’s place is a much less confident attempt to “keep this but maybe try this with it too?” kind of design.
Take for instance that front fender. The line originating from the top corner of the grille, peaking over the center of the front wheel arch and then slanting downwards toward the rear wheel arch in itself is really nice, but it is made obsolete by the weak “oh.., we have that front light unit – let’s just run the character to the same top – it might work” unresolved area at the front 3/4.
Another example I see is the greenhouse side view. The lower part is placed just too high, sits to cautiously above the character lines, tries to adapt to the character lines but does so in a very non-confident way afraid of being associated with it. Maybe this is harsh, but Kia would never let this one pass.
Mazda makes good cars, and their cars deserve to be looking confident, look like they have earned their place, because they have. They could do with a design leadership that would not just make fancy words with meaningless descriptions that are clearly not be followed through in the actual products. If they do I hope that makes it through to production. Their recent RX-Vision concept gives me hope that they can do that. They clearly have the talent, so now all is needed is confidence.