Mazda Targets Cyclists and Couch Potatoes – KODO Bike and Sofa Debut

By Tamami Laser with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan

Mazda has said that a car isn’t simply a mass of metal – it’s more like a living creature that creates an emotional bond with the driver. Mazda’s “KODO: Soul of Motion” design language can be found in all its products including the new 2016 MX-5. What happens when Mazda designers apply KODO to more workaday objects – like a bike or a sofa?


The result is the new “Bike by KODO concept” and “Sofa by KODO concept” unveiled today on the eve of opening the event “Mazda Design: The Car as Art,” in the Italian city of Milan. (image: Mazda)

Mazda returns to the Italian fashion capital this year on April 14-19 for Milan Design Week. Among other things, the company will host The Car as Art special exhibition at the Mazda Design Space facility located in the heart of the city’s fashion and design-oriented Brera district.

For many years Mazda has maintained a consistent focus on the representation of dynamic motion in its vehicle designs. Under the KODO – Soul of Motion design theme, Mazda’s new-generation vehicles express a powerful motion full of life, such as that “displayed by animals in the wild.”

Derek Jenkins, Director of Design, Mazda North American Operations, explains the design for Mazda’s new “Bike By KODO Concept” in Milan. (video: Mazda Motor Corp.)

First introduced on a production model in 2012 with the Mazda CX-5, KODO – Soul of Motion is the basis for Mazda’s award-winning vehicle designs. Mazda’s first KODO venture outside the realm of automobile design was unveiled at Milan Design Week in 2013: The unique KODO Chair, like Mazda’s cars, expresses motion as well as precision.

With “Mazda Design: The Car as Art,” the automaker says it’s aiming to further the evolution of the expression of motion by attempting the expression of two key sensibilities rooted in Japanese aesthetics; RIN, a sense of self-restrained dignity, and EN, an alluring sensuality that speaks directly to the senses.


“Bike by KODO Concept” is a track racer that seeks to express the innate beauty of the bicycle. (image: Mazda)

The KODO bike’s minimalist structure is composed of the least possible number of parts. The frame was painstakingly formed by hammering a single sheet of steel and the black leather saddle is hand-stitched, featuring the same red thread and stitch design as inside the new MX-5. The bicycle’s mixture of dynamism and allure is evocative of the MX-5’s styling.


Kevin Rice, Design Director, European R&D Center, Mazda Motor Europe presents the “Sofa by KODO concept.” (image: Mazda)

The KODO sofa that represents a collaborative effort between Mazda’s designers and Italian furniture makers exhibits an “exquisite blend of Mazda Design’s refined sensibilities and fine Italian craftsmanship backed by a long tradition of furniture-making.” Mazda says the form of the sofa is as honed as that of the new CX-3 and evokes the strong stance common to all Mazda’s new-generation vehicles.

KODOKI is a tsuiki copperware wine cooler hammered from a single sheet of copper in Japan’s famous Gyokusendo metal-working studio. (video: Mazda Motor Corp.)

Also on display at the event are a number of works by traditional Japanese craftsmen inspired by Mazda’s KODO – Soul of Motion design philosophy. SHIRAITO is a traditional lacquered box created by Kinjo-Ikkokusai which expresses the richness of natural phenomena using multiple layers of lacquer and finely-broken eggshell.

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Gyokusendo has concentrated on making copperware for more than two centuries. To make one container like the one shown above at Mazda’s display in Milan requires about 100,000 hammer strokes. (image: Mazda)

“As a company that places a huge priority on creativity and design quality, we like to go outside the box for inspiration. These activities in Milan are an excellent opportunity to learn from different fields of design,” said Mazda Motor Europe’s Vice President Communications Wojciech Halarewicz at the company’s separate Brera Design District Fuorisalone 2015 press conference. “From furniture to fashion and more, Milan is a world design capital. There is no better place to explore creativity and apply our KODO design theme to other disciplines.”

Besides hosting “Mazda Design: The Car as Art”, Mazda is also a main sponsor of the Brera Design District Fuorisalone 2015. The local edition of Milan Design Week covers a range of events during the Salone Internazionale del Mobile di Milano, the world’s largest furniture fair. Mazda first took part in Milan Design Week in 2013. (video: Mazda Motor Europe)

Mazda Design Space was conceived to celebrate those who challenge design convention in the name of innovation and beauty. The inaugural event at the facility took place during Milan Fashion Week. Entitled “Fashion and Design: A unique Italy/Japan collaboration in support of talented designers” and jointly hosted by Vogue Italia, it featured young designers from “COMEFORBREAKFAST” and Yasutoshi Ezumi, two emerging fashion labels selected by Vogue Talents.

They presented their own interpretations of KODO in the form of two inventive outfits exhibited alongside the all-new Mazda MX-5, perhaps the most daring automotive adaptation of KODO to date. Those attending included prominent fashion industry personalities such as Vogue Italy editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani, Cuban model and actress Mariela Garriga and Chinese artist Yi Zhou. Mazda Design Space hosted various design-related events leading up to Milan Design Week.

News source, photos and videos courtesy Mazda Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Europe

Story ©2015