Takanori Tsubaki: Chief Designer
Takanori Tsubaki is well placed to discuss the design changes of the latest CX-5, having been lead designer of the second-generation model in 2017. The now chief designer says he is especially proud that the car’s body design aligned with the latest Kodo design principles, so was strong enough to be retained and accomplish redesign goals such as increasing its SUV-like strength and clarifying the uniqueness of the new CX-5 trim levels.
Car design was a natural career path for Tsubaki. He loves to draw and has always been attracted to sports cars. He began working for Mazda after seeing the MX-5 and RX-7. These indicated to Tsubaki that the company could design the kind of cars he had always admired.
Discussing his design influences and what helped inspire the more powerful yet simpler design of the newest CX-5, Tsubaki talks about working in Europe. He was attracted by Scandinavian designs such as Danish furniture and Swedish and Finnish glassware. And he notes that such crafts have the same qualities of functionality, extreme simplicity, and beauty in form found in Japanese crafts. He understands that is a globally common value of beauty.
“I believe that the spirit among designers looking inwardly for authentic inspiration rather than being directed, is constantly evolving Mazda Design.”
“Each designer looks inwardly for authentic inspiration rather than relying on direction from others,” he says. But he also talks about their common design goals, including embracing a minimalist concept, an aspect of Kodo: Soul of Motion. “Manipulating light and shadow is common in Japanese arts, like our ink paintings, which express the contrasting density of shadows without relying on lines. I think you can sense this in CX-5 modeling.”
“This time, we have incorporated our minimalist aesthetic across the car’s whole body, a new expression of Kodo: Soul of Motion design.”Takanori Tsubaki, Chief Designer
“By combining new exterior colors we took on the challenge of creating an SUV package that presented something new while retaining known Mazda qualities.”Aira Matsumoto, Color/Material Designer
“I think that advanced modeling embodies a sense of tension, even in a soft surface.”Takafumi Shimada, Clay Modeler
Akitomo Hara: Interior Designer
Akitomo Hara remembers how special it felt traveling to different places when he was a child. But he especially liked the freedom of choice and destination you get when you drive a car. “I came to Mazda as it was the best place to make the cars I wanted to ride in,” he says.
Hara oversaw redesign and materials fabrication for cargo space and interior storage in the new CX-5. The first generation of the car had large luggage capacity and the next generation improved on material texture. But in this new model, Hara says, “I aimed to further develop Mazda’s concept of capacity combined with ease of use and beautiful appearance. I am very excited about the results.” Improvements include substantially more underfloor storage space and a flat trunk space when the seats are folded, which is ideal for transporting bulky items.
Growing up in a Japanese house that has stood for over 100 years helped Hara appreciate timeless, handcrafted beauty. He strives to make cars that are both sincere and enduring. As a spatial designer, Hara draws inspiration from observing architectural spaces or in trains, while sketching them allows him to identify important design elements. He believes the CX-5’s popularity stems from its “honesty, simplicity, and straightforwardness,” noting that his aim is always to blend beauty and functionality. “It is the ideal that I grew up with.”
“Naturally, I want to make things that are easy to use and beautiful. I believe it is my job to make people happy.”
“We greatly improved the functionality of the luggage compartment. It is rare to make such extensive improvements in a revision model. Renovating is actually more difficult than starting a new design from scratch.”Akitomo Hara, Interior Designer
“In the environment Mazda has cultivated, we are continually trying to refine things and make them even better than before.”Yasuyuki Murata, Digital Modeler
Words Steve Beimel / Images John Enos
Mazda CX-5 models shown may not be available in the United States. Please consult your nearest Mazda dealer.
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