- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2009

Several years ago, Mazda started applying the Japanese concept of “nagare” to its car design. Nagare means “flow.” Bringing flow to car design was a matter of analyzing how forces, such as wind and water, move in nature. The designers looked at these natural flow lines and started to incorporate them into the surfaces, textures and proportions of concept cars.

Thus, began an exploration into stretching the limits of what a vehicle could look like. For example, in Japan, the Mazda Nagare was influenced by geological flow patterns, the Mazda Ryuga was inspired by Japanese raked gardens and the Mazda Hakaze, “a compact crossover coupe, took its shapes from sand dunes and water.

When the designers were developing the Mazda Kiyora concept, they imagined a city car “cutting cleanly through an urban landscape” with water as a design theme. Kiyora, which means clean and pure in Japanese, was created to “represent the harmony between driving pleasure and environmental and safety features.” The Kiyora is part of Mazda’s long-term vision: “Sustainable zoom-zoom.”

“Nagare is significant because it inspired the design philosophy that you see in all our current and upcoming vehicles,” noted Jeremy Barnes, product and corporate communications director for Mazda North America. One of the first of Mazda’s cars entering the United States to be influenced by Nagare is the 2010 Mazda3.

“The Mazda3 is probably the one car where you can see the sculptural flow of nagare. It is more expressive than previous generations,” said Jonathan Frear, senior designer for Mazda.

“A lot of lines appear and disappear. It’s the way things happen in nature … things appear and fade out.

“We know that we wanted a bold first statement,” he said, referring to the bold grille, the headlamps stretched around to the sides of the car, the strong-wedged belt line and the small details inside the LED headlamps that repeat themes in the design of the car. That, he explained, is nagare. Subtle but natural.

“Other nagare-like flow lines are evident in the hood, down the sides of the car and in the center of the decklid. On the inside, all of the information wraps around so that it becomes relevant for the driver,” he added.

“The surfaces are very emotional,” he explained. “We design things we want to touch. When we look at cars, we always base the color on silver because it shows the surfaces off the best.”

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