Julien Montousse Named Mazda North America Design Director

Julien Montousse has been named Mazda’s North American Operations (MNAO) Design Director — a little more than a month after Derek Jenkins left to join a new startup car company — and we honestly can’t think of the role going to a more deserving person.

Montousse, who studied transport design at Strate College in Paris, France, before joining General Motors in 2002, has worked on such acclaimed projects as the 2005 Chevrolet Camaro interior and the Mazda Shinari concept. He is a passionate man who knows as much about open water as he does about drawing sensuous curves — one of the reasons he and former MNAO design director Derek Jenkins worked so well from the outset and why Jenkins recruited him to join his team as head of interiors in 2009.


“Through our KODO—Soul of Motion design ethos, we’ve come so far to instill a premium aura throughout our sixth-generation lineup,” said Montousse. “I am honored to have been chosen to lead our efforts at MNAO, and I look forward to continuing to elevate the Mazda brand with advanced vehicle architectures, purposeful aesthetics and unique consumer experiences.”

Besides heading up interior design at Mazda’s North American design studio Montousse has also carried out long-term assignments at Mazda’s headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan. In that role, Montousse helped propel the production design process of Mazda’s sixth-generation lineup, which has garnered praise as well as awards internationally. His influence can be seen on all of Mazda’s current generation interior designs, including the CX-5, Mazda2, Mazda3 and Mazda6 as well as the new CX-3 compact crossover and MX-5 Miata roadster, the perfect embodiment of the driver-centric cockpit experience.


In Montousse’s new position, he will oversee all of Mazda’s North American design operations, including next-generation exterior and interior vehicle design and brand strategy development. He will report directly to Masamitsu Koike, vice president of research and development at MNAO.

“Julien has been instrumental in strengthening Mazda’s overall direction through his keen focus on creating driving atmospheres focused on the experience of driving,” Koike said of Montousse’s appointment. “He is an invaluable asset to have on our team and an excellent ambassador of the Mazda brand.”

Rendering of the interior of the 2005 Chevrolet Camaro by Julien Montousse
Rendering of the interior of the 2005 Chevrolet Camaro by Julien Montousse

Mazda’s global design chief, Ikuo Maeda, added: “Julien brings to Mazda a deep understanding of form language that complements our worldwide design efforts and adds a layer of depth to KODO design that keeps pushing the boundaries in terms of sophistication and style. I congratulate him on his appointment and welcome him to the next chapter of his career as MNAO’s director of design.”


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