The Design Language
|Laurens van den Acker||Mickael Loyer (left) and Luca Zollino, Designers, European R&D Center|
As well as the latest concept vehicles from Mazda, the Hakaze Concept expresses a new design language called Nagare, (pronounced na-ga-reh) developed by Mazda’s new global design director, Laurens van den Acker.
The word Nagare means “flow” and “the embodiment of movement” in Japanese and applying it to car design involved analyzing motion itself and how forces like wind and water move in nature.
Natural flow lines are all around us – wind blowing shapes in sand, wave forms seen from above – and are literally symbolic of movement itself.
Nagare, then, is the application of natural flow to automotive design that combines surface language and proportion to communicate movement in a new way.
Both Mazda concepts are an evolving expression of a formal language inspired by the movement of nature’s elements: Mazda Nagare’s surface articulation was inspired by geological flow patterns, and Mazda Ryuga’s side body texture was inspired by Karesansui, or Japanese raked gardens.
Both evoke energy and lightness, translated into a beautiful language of lines and forms that are powerful yet effortless, simple yet strikingly seductive.
Exterior Colour and Materials
and then passed on to the modellers
Mazda Hakaze’s exterior forms are combined with colours, materials and surface treatment that also express Nagare flow. A desert image is the source for its golden colour, reminiscent of a desert at sunset.
“The exterior colour was selected to support the surface language, its articulation and its texture,” says Maria Greger, Senior Designer for Colour and Materials, ”so that the whole surface impression is one of natural flow.
“We want to have a feeling of sand. So if you look closer at the colour, you see small particles like sand.”
The natural look to the exterior surface was further underscored by employing a “flop” technique in the colour treatment of all panels that are bent at an angle to form two sections with a smooth edge between them.
the Nagare design can be expressed on the side body panel
The paint used for such panels was designed to give the upper part of the panel a more transparent feel, which is created by a transparent layer over the colour. Then the colour “flops” over towards a darker impression below the edge, an effect achieved by additives to the paint and by a slightly different use of particles in the paint.
The final effect is similar to a sand dune or a wave in sand, which is lighter above and darker below.
Interior Colours and Materials
and Luciana Silvares (Designer for Colour and Materials)
“We want the interior to be a heightened touch experience full of natural-feeling surfaces. Natural in the sense that you come to the car and you have one impression.
“When you look a second time, you see new things happening everywhere,” says Luciana Silvares, Designer for Colour and Materials who, along with Maria Greger, designed the colours and materials for Mazda Hakaze.
The colour scheme on the inside of Mazda Hakaze was chosen to enhance the natural flow forms and to underscore the car’s kite-surfing functionality.
They reflect the ocean, continuing the beach and dune theme, with the floor a dark brown, the trim, dashboard, doors and centre panel a greenish beige, the four seats in a deep blue. This is combined with unique texturing of materials meant to enhance the Nagare flow strategy with natural feeling surfaces and patterns.
Jo Stenuit (Assistant Chief Designer)
Many of the concept’s interior materials are grained using new Flotek® technology, which can create different textures on a single surface. Before, materials had to be embossed using the same repeating patterns. With this new graining technology, the Colour and Material’s team was able to make asymmetrical and creatively-patterned surfaces that mimic natural irregularities.
The floor, for instance, is made of soft, natural leather –great for bare feet just off the beach –embossed in a flow pattern with a patina of various textures and slight imperfections that give a natural feel compared to artificially homogeneous material like carpet.
The dashboard also has a special grain over it that feels sandy in some places and has line texture in others, which enhances the flowing Nagare forms by making them not only look natural, but feel natural as well.
This touch experience also extends to the seats of Mazda Hakaze, which are made of smooth, high-tech leather with a surface coating to make them feel similar to the material used for wet suits, but with a higher quality.
|Masato Ogawa and Jo Stenuit checking the ergonomics of the interior of the Hakaze concept||Designers working on photorealistic renderings and animations|
The driver’s seat is surrounded in a cocoon-like cockpit and continues the kite-surfer appeal with wet suit stitching and badging in orange Kanji script, while the other three seats have water droplets printed on them for a wet and wild look. The result of all these efforts is a very interactive, even sensual interior surfacing where passengers can discover new touch sensations every time they get into the car.
The making of the prototype – Image Gallery
Market Inspiration and Advanced Product Planning
To ensure Mazda Hakaze and all upcoming concepts from Mazda Motor Europe are not merely flights of fancy, an Advanced Product Planning (APP) team was assigned to Mazda Motor Europe’s Research and Development (MRE) centre in late 2004 with cross-functional team members from design, marketing and engineering.
The APP team was responsible for the initial planning phase of the Hakaze project. This began with lifestyle and automotive trend research, and included spending time with ”normal” consumers in Germany and the UK, to see exactly what kind of lifestyles people lead, and what kind of attitudes these customers have towards their cars.
Combined with market data, it became clear that compact SUVs – those able to meet emerging and more active lifestyle trends –will become more popular over the next 10 years.
“Traditional segments in Europe are declining,” said Benno Gaessler, Manager APP who, along with Stefan Meisterfeld, Assistant Manager APP, was responsible for analysis and strategy.
”[…] potential customers have emotional needs that are unfulfilled. They would like to drive a coupe, to drive a convertible, to drive a vehicle that is expressive. But these normally come with a very big price tag and expensive running costs. How we can fulfil these needs is what Hakaze is all about.”
The APP team clearly identified an overall concept that would appeal to these kinds of customers. It should be just as agile and fun to drive as a compact hatchback, while offering attributes like open-top driving, a higher seating position, more sporty driving attributes and a modern, upscale design.
“What is unique to this vehicle is that its realization was a tightly-knit, cross-functional effort,” says Jose R.G. Santamaria, Director of APP and Consumer Insights.
”We have engineering, planning and design professionals working together as one group. From this point of view, Hakaze is the first of this new and effective process of future development.”
After identifying the key attributes of the new concept, the APP team turned the plan over to two cross-functional members of the team – a designer and a packaging engineer.