Kevin Rice is Mazda Europe’s new Head Designer

Automotive Design 19 Aug 2014
Kevin Rice is Mazda Europe’s new Head Designer

Kevin Rice will be appointed as Mazda Motor Europe’s new design director effective 1 September. Rice replaces Peter Birtwhistle, who will retire after 26 years with Mazda Europe.


The 50-year-old British national had returned last autumn as creative director to Mazda’s European R&D Centre in Oberursel, Germany, after 13 years at BMW, where he was responsible for the exterior development of many models including the new 3 and 4 series.

Mazda Europe new Head Designer Kevin Rice

Following experiences at Italdesign in Italy and Opel in Germany, Rice had already worked at Mazda’s European R&D as senior designer from 1995 to 2000, where he worked on many proposals for future models such as the RX-8 and led the development of the ‘Neospace’ show car (pictured below), exhibited at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show.

1999 Mazda Neospace Concept

Kevin Rice succeeds Peter Birtwhistle, chief designer at Mazda Europe’s R&D Centre, who is retiring after a  26-year stint with Mazda.

About Peter Birtwhistle

Peter Birtwhistle

Peter Birtwhistle studied automotive design at the Royal College of Art, London.

Before joining Mazda he was assistant exterior studio chief designer at Porsche, and a studio designer at Audi and Vauxhall.

Birtwhistle joined Mazda in 1988 and has led Mazda Europe’s design department since mid-1999.

Among other things, he played an integral role in developing Mazda’s “KODO – Soul of Motion” design theme, which has been honoured with numerous prizes including the 2013 Auto Bild Design award for the new-generation Mazda6, and red dot design awards in 2014 for the Mazda3 and 2013 for the Mazda6.

Mazda Shinari Concept - Design Sketch

Above: the Mazda Shinari Concept (2010) introduced the ‘KODO – Soul of Motion’ design philosophy

Official Statements

Mazda Motor Europe President & CEO Jeff Guyton commented: “Mazda has a long tradition in Europe for its stand-out designs and is considered the most European of Japanese brands. This is in large part thanks to Peter’s passion for design and for cars.”

“I would like to thank him for his contribution to Mazda’s success, and am certain we can continue to count on Peter’s support and expertise. That said, we are fortunate to have a successor of such great talent. Kevin will continue Peter’s work, giving Mazda the necessary continuity while at the same time representing a new generation of designers.”

(Source: Mazda)

Image Gallery

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Kevin Rice is Mazda Europe's new Head Designer - Image 1

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