Kevin Rice is set to re-join Mazda’s European design team after a 13-year hiatus from the company. Rice will assume the role of creative director, reporting to the Mazda’s European design chief Peter Birtwhistle, whom he is tipped to replace in the next few years.
“I’m delighted to be here as part of a family guided by a convention-defying approach to designing and building cars that people crave to own,” Rice said in a statement. “I’ve made it my personal challenge to reinforce the competitive edge of our Kodo-inspired models and build upon the Mazda brand’s positive momentum.”
Rice is no stranger to Mazda’s European design operations. Having joined the Japanese firm as a senior designer in 1995, he worked on projects such as the RX-8 and the 1999 Neospace show car. He will now be tasked with furthering the ‘Kodo — Soul of Motion’ design language initiated by head of design Ikuo Maeda in 2010.
Based at the company’s R&D Center in Oberursel, Germany, Rice will be working closely with TJ Nakamuta, chief designer for Mazda’s design studios in Yokohama and Hiroshima, Japan, Mazda’s North American design director, Derek Jenkins, and advanced design director Yasushi Nakamuta.
Rice makes the move back to Mazda after 13 years at BMW, where he was responsible for the exterior development of many models including the new 3 and 4 Series. The British national also honed his skills working at Italdesign in Italy and Opel in Germany after completing his studies at Coventry University’s Transportation Design program.
“We’re really excited to have Kevin back,” says Birtwhistle. “His experience at BMW adds an extra dimension that will transfer very well to our European design activities. He’s certainly the kind of talent we need to lead Mazda successfully into the future.”
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