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First introduced by Head Designer Ikuo Maeda in 2010, Mazda's 'Kodo: Soul of Motion' design language translates the beauty of movement into a still object.

21 Nov 2020 | International News : Japan


With the 'Kodo - Soul of Motion' design philosophy, Head Designer Ikuo Maeda set a bold new direction for design at Mazda.

Introduced 10 years ago at the 2010 LA Motor Show with the Shinari concept car, Kodo Design has been defining and elevating Mazda's award-winning styling ever since, with its core principle remaining unchanged, to explore the powerful and irresistible beauty of natural movement in a still object. 

The Mazda Shinari concept (left) and the Mazda Minagi concept (right) that eventually became the first generation Mazda CX-5
The word Kodo literally translates to 'heartbeat', but with the added meaning of filling something with life, and of giving it a soul. This idea is central to the way Mazda has always thought about design.

Kodo was first unveiled in 2010 with the Shinari, Mazda's stunning four-door sports coupe concept that gave the world vision of an animal ready to pounce, foreshadowing an exciting future for Mazda design. The following year, Mazda teased the world with another example of Kodo Design with the Minagi, a compact crossover SUV concept that later evolved into the award-winning Mazda CX-5

Following closely in the footsteps of the Shinari and Minagi concepts, the Takeri and Hazumi concepts carried the same expression of motion that focused on the strength, beauty and tension found in the instantaneous movement seen in animals.

A turning point for Kodo Design was reached with two awe-inspiring concept cars, the RX-Vision and the Vision Coupe, evoking a powerful and emotional design with as few elements as possible.

The Mazda RX-Vision concept evokes a powerful and emotional design
Introduced at the 2015 and 2017 Tokyo Motor Show respectively, both concepts anticipated the new elegance and yet more pronounced minimalist aesthetic of recent interpretations of Kodo Design. Dynamic and emotional forms are achieved by shaving off any unnecessary elements to bring out the very essence of beauty and motion. 

From this point onwards, Mazda designers sought to create beauty and a unique elegance through taking components away, not adding more. Launched in 2019, the latest generation Mazda3 was inspired by the Kai Concept and was the first vehicle to showcase the latest evolution in the company's ground-breaking Kodo Design.

With the latest evolution of Kodo Design, every element serves a purpose, nothing is superfluous or purely ornamental. Three concepts were instrumental in this design progression - yohaku or ma, the beauty of empty space, sori, curves with poise and balance, and utsoroi, the play of light and shadow.

The Mazda Kai concept, which eventually became the fourth generation Mazda3
The Mazda CX-30 was developed to follow this design concept with exterior styling that exudes the supple and flowing elegance of a coupe combined with the toughness of an SUV. 

The most recent addition to Mazda's current global lineup, the Mazda MX-30, breaks new ground for Kodo Design. Though retaining the beautiful, hand-crafted forms of Mazda's design philosophy, the styling of the MX-30 represents an exploration of a more modern aesthetic, which focuses on the futuristic values and lifestyles that are beginning to emerge. 

Over the last ten years, Kodo Design has not just been confined to automotive design. In order to fulfil the promise of creating designs with a soul, the design team set up a process that combines creativity, craftsmanship and cooperation to explore the boundaries of Kodo Design. 

Unveiled at the 2015 Milan Design Week, the unique Bike by Kodo Concept exemplified the 'less is more' philosophy of Japanese art and design to reimagine the modern racing bicycle. Mazda craftsman distilled its frame's design to its purest form evoking lightness, agility and speed.

As Mazda continues to blend a love of driving with great interior and exterior design, the simplistic elegance and emotional appeal of Kodo Design will remain essential ingredients of the brand's identity. After 10 years of sustained success, Kodo Design continues to push the limits of car design and define the future of Mazda.

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