[YesAuto designer interview] He is the owner of two generations of Mazda MX-5 (first generation NA, fourth generation ND), one for collection and one for transportation. He is not only an iron fan of Mazda, but also a designer who has worked for Mazda for more than 30 years. He is also the most cheerful and smiling Japanese I have ever seen.
After the birth of Mazda's fourth-generation MX-5, it has successively won the World Car of the Year, World Design Car of the Year, and the German Red Dot Design Award. The chief designer named masashi nakayama also gained fame. Three years ago, he introduced a lot of MX-5 design to me in Hiroshima. This time I chatted with him about the 100th anniversary of Mazda across the screen.
● He is now promoted! This may be a good thing for Mazda fans
In 1989, he formally entered Mazda, and successively participated in or in charge of Mazda RX-8, third-generation MX-5 (NC), CX-5, Minagi concept car, etc., and led the design of the fourth-generation MX-5 (ND). It can also be seen from the models that participated in the design and development that most of Zhongshanya's career has been spent on Mazda's sports cars.
Three years ago, Zhong Shan Ya and I met at Mazda headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan. At that time, he was in a moment of high spirits, because his fourth-generation MX-5 had just won the International Red Dot Design Award, the Car of the Year Award and many other awards.
Designers and engineers are a contradictory pair in any car company, because design beauty must be balanced with engineering difficulty and cost. For Zhongshan Ya, this balance now requires dual considerations. It was different when he was only responsible for styling design before.
For friends who love Mazda's design, Zhongshan Ya's promotion to deputy minister may be a good thing. Because he has a designer background, he has a deeper understanding of design than other vehicle project leaders. When encountering the contradictions between design and engineering, I believe that he can better meet the aesthetic needs of consumers for styling design.
● What does he think is the most important model of Mazda's 100 years?
During the video conversation, he drew a sketch at random. He thought it would be the MX-5 designed by him, but it turned out to be an old car Mazda Cosmo Sport more than 50 years ago.
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Mazda. This small Japanese factory that manufactures wine corks has grown into a global automobile manufacturing company. Rotary engine, Le Mans champion, Chuangchi Blue Sky, Soul Motion design, compression ignition engine, etc., Mazda has created many labels that excite car fans in the past 100 years.
Cosmo Sport was born in the middle of Mazda’s history. It was the first Mazda model equipped with a rotary engine, and it was priced at about 2 million yen (basically equivalent to the value of 40-50 million yen today). It is a high-end positioning. Sports car.
For the car companies at that time, the rotary engine was a completely unknown dream field. It represented a blue ocean in the future. Just like today's autonomous driving technology, Mazda has great vision and confidence in this. At the same time, this car also embodies Mazda's current car-making philosophy that is obsessed with sports and driving pleasure.
● Why have several 100th anniversary commemorative models launched?
You might say that of course it is to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Mazda! But there are actually many ways to celebrate, such as launching a 100th anniversary concept car, or re-enacting a classic car 100 years ago, and Mazda finally chose to add a new version of the 100th anniversary commemorative version to the many models sold.
“Behind this decision is the gratitude to the supporters of Mazda. From a commercial point of view, it is not pursuing profitability. They hope that consumers have more choices and easily own the 100th anniversary commemorative model.”
A small team of young people aged 20-30 was temporarily formed inside Mazda. After communication and voting, it was decided to pay tribute to R360 COUPE. They believed that the lightweight design, stylish Coupe shape of R360 COUPE and today's Chuangchi Blue Sky technology and soul The dynamic design concept is very appropriate.
● How does Mazda conduct design research and decision-making?
More than ten years ago, Mazda was still using a set of Ford’s standard research procedures, including before the production car came out, Mazda would show three or four design schemes for the new car, and the ratio of 1:1 was projected on the big screen. , Let the target consumers evaluate and comment. Then, Mazda will adjust the design plan accordingly based on the opinions, or directly add the design elements that consumers prefer to the production car. After “breaking up” with Ford, Mazda abandoned this traditional research system.
This is not based on intuition or unfounded recommendations, but based on a thorough understanding of customers, in order to propose the most suitable sushi set for them. The same is true for Mazda's car manufacturing. He will not move consumers' favorite designs to the car one by one, but based on the understanding of consumers, he will actively create new cars that meet the consumer's aesthetics. This is also the reason why Mazda has been able to adhere to the Soul Motion design.
● Why doesn't Mazda have an intelligent large screen?
Mazda does not deny that the intelligent cockpit will be the future of car interior design. At this stage, the reason why it has not launched a large screen and intelligent car-machine system onboard is simple: high cost. The decision Mazda made was to spend more of the cost on improving the core mechanical performance parts such as power, body, and chassis.
Friends who have been to Japan may know that the prices of electronic appliances in Japan today are actually very expensive (except for individual categories), such as TVs, washing machines, notebooks, rice cookers, etc. The products with the same configuration and technology are sold by domestic manufacturers. Cost and selling price are far more competitive than Japanese products.
However, fans of Mazda should not be overly sad and disappointed. Zhongshan Ya still revealed: Please give Mazda some time. In the future, these needs will be met.
● Will the space for Mazda models improve in the future?
Next, I asked another point that Mazda is often criticized: Will the future Mazda cars improve the space in the car?
Zhongshan Ya said frankly, “Today the size of cars is increasing a little bit, and the future Mazda will further increase the size of the body, and the space inside the car will increase accordingly. But this does not mean that Mazda will lose because of the expansion of space. The dynamism pursued by Soul Motion Design.”
In other words, the future Mazda will still not list the improvement of the interior space as the most important goal. So, you know.
● The design of electric vehicles and fuel vehicles will tend to be homogenous?
In Mazda's development plan, pure electric vehicles are also an important direction. The current mass-produced MX-30 is a test of the pure electric market. From this car, we can also see some thinking about Mazda's pure electric car. The pure electric Mazda will also adhere to the concept of the unity of man and horse, and the styling also continues the soul movement design.
At this stage, many pure electric vehicles and traditional fuel vehicles have obvious differences in design, but Zhongshan Ya believes that if the time span is stretched a little bit, the two will definitely become homogeneous in the future!
Because every time a new species is born, it will show itself from the outside and emphasize its uniqueness (for example, many electric vehicles use blue or green decorative parts to highlight the properties of new energy). But over time, they will become homogenous with traditional energy vehicles after the transition period.
● Are there any other hobbies outside of work?
Mr. Zhong Shanya has a very large lawn in his house. In his spare time, he uses a lawn mower to trim it neatly. He told me that this is what he usually likes to do.
He said that the process of mowing the lawn is very similar to Japanese meditation, and it is a way to calm the mind. Apart from busy work, he hopes to get out of his identity as a designer and do simple things to let his thoughts settle down.
● Do you think there is any difference between an artist and a designer?
The cost for artists to make a work of art is very low, and the cost of developing a new car may cost tens of billions of yen. Artwork is more about expressing the world of the artist's self, while automobile products have to meet the needs of consumers, so automobile design should also resonate with more people.
● to sum up:
There are not many car companies in the world with a history of 100 years, and few of them are still persistent and not following the trend a hundred years later. This conversation with Zhongshan Ya made me deeply feel Mazda's insistence on driving pleasure and styling aesthetics. But Mazda is not a stupid company that does not want to make a profit. It just does not want to lose the soul of the brand and the ideals it pursues while pursuing commercial competition and satisfying consumer needs. (The picture of Xia Zhimeng of Wenjiajia comes from the official website)