Kevin Rice has officially been named Mazda Motor Europe’s new chief designer, replacing Peter Birtwhistle on September 1. Rice re-joined Mazda following a 13 year hiatus from the company in the fall of last year, taking on a the role of creative director as Birtwhistle’s imminent retirement loomed.
Having previously spent five years working at Mazda’s European R&D Center in Oberursel, Germany, in the mid-1990s — working on such projects as the RX-8 and the 1999 Neospace show car — Rice has also worked for BMW, Italdesign and Opel since competing his studies at Coventry University.
He is now tasked with furthering the ‘Kodo — Soul of Motion’ design language — initiated by head of design Ikuo Maeda in 2010 — and will continue working alongside 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.
Peter Birtwhistle is retiring after a successful 26-year stint with Mazda. The British national joined Mazda in 1988 and has led Mazda Europe’s design department since mid-1999. Among other things, he played an integral role in developing Mazda’s current design language, which has been honored with numerous prizes including the red dot design awards in 2014 for the Mazda3 and 2013 for the Mazda6. Both models were also finalists for the World Car Design of the Year award.
“I would like to thank [Peter Birtwhistle] for his contribution to Mazda’s success, and am certain we can continue to count on Peter’s support and expertise,” Mazda Motor Europe President & CEO Jeff Guyton said. “That said, we are fortunate to have a successor of such great talent. Kevin will continue Peter’s work, giving Mazda the necessary continuity while at the same time representing a new generation of designers.”
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