Mazda’s two newest designs don’t come with traction control or speedometers, instead what you get are two bits of leather to perch your derriere. The company is showcasing two new concepts – “Bike by Kodo” and “Sofa by Kodo” – at a showcase event in Milan.
Both the bike and sofa were inspired by Mazda’s KODO -Soul of motion philosophy, which as defined by Mazda is “powerful motion full of life, such as that displayed by animals in the wild”. Personally, I’d rather be watching National Geographic, not sitting on it.
Cheesy descriptions aside, the two concepts do look stunning. “Bike by KODO concept” is a track racer that has a minimalist structure formed by hammering a single sheet of steel. The bike has a hand-stitched black leather saddle, featuring the same red thread and stitch as the Mazda MX-5, whose design, the bike tries to emulate.
The “Sofa by KODO concept,” is a collaborative effort between Mazda’s designers and Italian furniture makers. This is one couch that does not scream “potato”. It’s both refined and avant-garde at the same time, and would not look out of place in any of Jho Low’s NYC pads. It features a polished aluminum frame and a subtle but striking hint of red in the middle. A matching table has a wing-like shape and a metallic trim with a glass top. Designed to look “as honed as the CX-3”, the sofa mirrors the new styling of Mazda’s new generation of vehicles.
Before you see this as an exercise in narcissism, consider that this is the space to win hearts and minds. Car design is not just about cars, it’s an art form. “Over the past few years, design has become an essential part of who we are, adding an artistic value to the entire Mazda brand experience,” said Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s Managing Executive Officer, in charge of Global Marketing, Customer Service and Sales Innovation. “Moving forward, we will create more opportunities to familiarize customers with Mazda and Mazda design in order to raise the value of our brand and strengthen our bond with customers.”
Call it marketing if you like, but we say “good on you Mazda”. It is very important that the Japanese brands start “talking design” because only then will consumers start to feel and understand their brands better. In my Infiniti Q50 review I talked about how the deck is stacked against the Japanese in the premium sweepstakes, and this is one of the reasons. The Europeans have owned this space for years, simply because they communicated it. It’s time others started doing the same. In the meantime, where’s my remote?