The Maedas’ Touch
Meet the design dynasty behind Mazda’s iconic sports cars
Matasaburo Maeda was chief designer of the first-generation Mazda RX-7, and his son Ikuo headed the design team for its successor, the RX-8. Was this a trick of fate, the result of DNA, a father’s scheme?
“Even though the word ‘designer’ sounds attractive, the work itself is arduous and I never took it home with me,” says Matasaburo.
However, Ikuo does recall visits to their home from legendary automotive designers Giorgetto Giugiaro and Nuccio Bertone, noting: “Although I never wanted to become a car designer, I was probably influenced by this environment, as I always knew that I wanted to make things, to be a creator of some sort.”
After studying industrial design at university in Kyoto, Ikuo joined Mazda in 1982; assigned with the role of designing the successor to his father’s iconic RX-7. Matasaburo only learned of his son’s involvement in carrying on the legacy three months before the RX-8 went on sale in 2003.
“One day Ikuo showed me a photo of the RX-8 from a brochure,” says Matasaburo. “He asked me to evaluate it. I said, ‘Oh, it’s rather good.’ It’s true of the Mazda2 as well … there’s something about his design that just hits me. It’s not because he’s my son. It’s probably the Mazda DNA.”
Ikuo believes there’s a difference between his design philosophy and that of his father’s: “If you called my father’s design quiet and sleek, mine is both dynamic and full of movement. He was trained as an engineer and his work reflected the trend for the simple and functional, whereas I have been breaking away from that and representing the more emotional brand of today,” he explains.
“Yet even though our expression differs greatly,” continues Ikuo, “as designers we both implement design with reason and functionality.”
Today, Ikuo is applying his own unique vision to Mazda design –like father, like son.
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