Mazda Design People

Automotive Design 29 May 2008
Mazda Design People

The offical information about Mazda’s main leading designers Laurens van den Acker (General Manager), Peter Birtwhistle (Mazda Europe), Franz von Holzhausen (North America) and Atsuhiko Yamada (Japan).

Mazda People – the spirit of Mazda

Mazda designers Mazda People – from left to right: Franz von Holzhausen,

Laurens van den Acker, Atsuhiko Yamada and Peter Birtwhistle

Related Documents:

Laurens van den Acker

Laurens van den Acker is general manager of Mazda’a Design Division.

He is responsible for the overall design and styling of all of Mazda’s global products including concept vehicles and it was his initiative that introduced the new global design identity of Nagare form language at Mazda. Van den Acker is the driving force that has established Mazda’s strong and creative global design network.

Laurens van den AckerBefore joining Mazda van den Acker was chief designer of Strategic Design in the Dearborn Advanced Studio at Ford Motor Company, North America.

Prior to that assignment, he held several different design positions during his seven years with Ford, including chief designer for the Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner and was chief designer of Strategic Design and chief designer of Ford’s Brand Imaging Group. He has also designed for Volvo and Audi.

During his time at Ford Laurens van den Acker contributed to key vehicles – including the Ford Model U, 427, Bronco and GloCar concepts.

Van den Acker graduated from Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands with a Master of Engineering degree from the Faculty of Industrial Design

Laurens van den Acker says he is delighted to be heading Mazda Design, particularly at this time and for a company that is so supportive of such innovation.

“By tuning up the visual volume this way we are creating a new generation of Mazda vehicles and reinforcing Mazda’s commitment to build sporty and passionate vehicles. Ultimately this Nagare form language – as applied on the Taiki and Ryuga concepts – will be seen as similar exterior textural elements on future Mazda production vehicles.”

Peter Birtwhistle

Peter BirtwhistlePeter Birtwhistle is chief of design for Mazda Europe. He is responsible for overseeing the design and development of all vehicles for Mazda’s European design operations and is based at Mazda’s European research and development centre in Oberursel, Germany.

Responsible for creating vehicles in the world’s most competitive and challenging car market, Birtwhistle leads an international team of designers.

Birtwhistle joined Mazda as a senior designer in 1988 and has been leading Mazda’s European design operations since 2000.

Before joining Mazda Birtwhistle was assistant exterior studio chief designer at Porsche, and a studio designer at Audi and Vauxhall. He studied automotive design at the Royal College of Art, London.

“With the new design philosophy we will get more visual expression and excitement into the bodies of Mazda cars beyond conventional elements. It’s great to have such a common goal and it is a very creative time because there is such openness to new ideas; to have designers able to create so many elements and so many details. We are creating forms and features that would not have been possible before the new Nagare form language”.

Franz von Holzhausen

Franz von HolzhausenFranz von Holzhausen is director of design at Mazda’s North American Operations (MNAO).

He is responsible for overseeing the design and development of all vehicles for Mazda North American Operations and is based at Mazda’s North American design and research and development centre in Irvine, California, USA.

Von Holzhausen joined Mazda from General Motors where he was design manager, managing programs including the Pontiac Solstice concept and production vehicles, as well as Saturn derivatives. Prior to his time at GM, von Holzhausen served as assistant chief designer for Volkswagen.

At Volkswagen, he was a key designer involved in the design development of the Audi TT and Concept 1 New Beetle, working under J Mays.

Von Holzhausen led the Nagare concept car development – the first concept to show Mazda’s Flow Design philosophy – and which would later spawn Ryuga. Under his day-to-day direction, he and his Irvine design team help design and co-develop the Ryuga concept that would later be finished and built in Japan. Also, the latest Nagare concept – Furai – was executed back in his Irvine studio.

Von Holzhausen says he is most inspired when he is involved in projects that are truly innovative:

“I love breaking new ground, whether just for the brand or generally. To a certain extent we are simply providing the design that people have been waiting for. I think we are breaking some boundaries in automotive design that needed to be broken.

“It is pioneering design. It is forging a way ahead for everyone in the industry. If you think about the textured surfaces, the surface language and manufacture, it is a pioneer for change. It is so different from anything else that is out there”.

Atsuhiko Yamada

Atsuhiko YamadaAtsuhiko Yamada is chief designer and manager of the Advance Design Group in Mazda’s design division in Yokohama, Japan. He is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day design and development of all vehicles for Mazda’s Japanese and Asian operations.

In Yokahama his team is engaged in the development of designs for five to ten years from now. It was Yamada’s team that developed the Ryuga and Taiki concepts.

He leads a team that investigates and studies design trends in various areas such as pop culture, architecture, product and fashion design and synthesizes them into products relevant to local markets.

In recent years, he has had lead involvement in the design development of the Mazda2, Mazda6, and CX-9 projects.

“The philosophy of Nagare is very natural to me for designing a car,” explains Atsuhiko Yamada.

“Japanese culture and design, historically, are heavily influenced by nature and we see a lot of beautiful flow design languages in architecture, garden, art and fashion.

"I was brought up in such an environment and I am excited that I have the opportunity to translate the beauty of nature into car design”.

“I think this language will appeal to many people even if they have different cultural backgrounds, because nature is so beautiful to everyone. The journey could be endless and there is potentially unlimited design inspiration.”



Image Gallery

Related Stories

Volkswagen ID.7

Volkswagen ID.7 – Design Sketches

The official design sketches of the Volkswagen ID.7, the E-segment all-eletric sedan launched in 2023.
Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept

Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept

Mazda has revealed the Mazda RX-Vision GT3 Concept, a virtual racing car co-developed with Polyphony Digital Inc., and available for download in the PS4 title Gran Turismo Sport.
IAAD announces Design Talk with Dave Amantea in partnership with Art Center

IAAD announces Design Talk with Dave Amantea in partnership with Art Center

For their newly formed academic partnership, IAAD. and ArtCenter College of Design have launched “9649 Design Talks”. The first event - open to the public - is a talk by Pininfarina Chief Design Office Davide Amantea. The talk takes place...


Leave a Comment


Get all the updates with our weekly newsletter!

Find a Car

Scroll To Top
Scroll To Bottom