Published on April 15th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Mazda takes KODO design to everyday objects
It’s interesting how the culture of Mazda has changed over the years, from being a company that really challenged the norm in a time of recession, to being a company that slowly tried to recover from heavy losses by building simpler, more reserved models. At this point in time they are slowly getting back into the game, looking to flex their design muscles and show the world what Hiroshima can really do. The objectives may be different, but it seems that the drive is back.
Kodo design is something that has been introduced with this generation of Mazda models, starting with the Mazda CX-5 and Mazda 6, and eventually progressing to the Mazda 3 and Mazda 2. It’s a design language that pairs well with their SKYACTIV technology, a form-follows-function kind of thing; no doubt we’ve heard endless variations of this concept, but it’s a pretty radical jump from what they were building before.
KODO design wasn’t always well received. Applied to a car, it tends to enlarge the grill and shrink other features, perhaps a step too far. But over time, and eventually with the Mazda 2, they have tweaked the design language to be more consumer friendly, and consumers have warmed to the radical change in looks. It’s a sort of meet-me-halfway approach, and it seems that Mazda’s new models look perfectly fine aesthetically.
But Mazda tasked their designers with applying the KODO design concept to everyday objects. Bringing their exhibit to Milan, titled “Mazda Design: The Car as Art”, Mazda is aiming to further the evolution of the expression of motion by attempting the expression of two key sensibilities rooted in Japanese aesthetics; RIN, a sense of self-restrained dignity, and EN, an alluring sensuality that speaks directly to the senses.
“Bike by KODO concept” is a track racer that seeks to express the innate beauty of the bicycle. Its minimalist structure is composed of the least possible number of parts. The frame was painstakingly formed by hammering a single sheet of steel and the black leather saddle is hand-stitched, featuring the same red thread and stitch design as the all-new Mazda MX-5. The bicycle’s mixture of dynamism and allure is evocative of the Mazda MX-5’s styling.
“Sofa by KODO concept,” a collaborative effort between Mazda’s designers and Italian furniture makers, exhibits an exquisite blend of Mazda Design’s refined sensibilities and fine Italian craftsmanship backed by a long tradition of furniture-making. The form of the sofa is as honed as that of the all-new Mazda CX-3 and evokes the strong stance common to all Mazda’s new-generation vehicles.
Along with this are other works by traditional Japanese craftsmen, inspired by the KODO design philosophy. It’s a little abstract, but hey- if it’s what’s driving the company back to it’s roots, then by all means it’s a good thing. If you feel like this was a bit too loopy for you, here’s an old Mazda video to strike a chord in your heart. It talks about “jinba ittai”, or “horse and rider”- one of the key principles in developing the MX-5’s handling abilities.