Mazda has hired a new creative director for its European design team, the company announced Monday. Kevin Rice, a 49 year-old British national, who reunited with Mazda after 13 years working as a design manager at BMW, will pursue the Japanese automaker’s goal of further developing its Kodo design language.
“We’re really excited to have Kevin back. He’s no stranger to Mazda, and his experience at BMW adds an extra dimension that will transfer very well to our European design activities,” Peter Birtwhistle, Mazda Research Europe’s chief designer, said in statement. “He’s certainly the kind of talent we need to lead Mazda successfully into the future.”
Rice has worked as an automotive designer since 1986, starting off his career in Germany at Opel. Later Rice would rise in the industry and work for GiugiaroItal Design in Italy, as well as freelance in Japan for companies like Saab and Ford. Rice served as a senior designer at Mazda’s European R&D offices in Oberursel, Germany from 1995 to 2000. During that time he helped draft a design for the Mazda RX-8 and directed development of the Neospace show car, which was exhibited at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show.
In 2000, Rice moved to BMW and spent 13 years leading successful design initiatives on models such as the BMW 1-series and recent BMW 4-series.
“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.”
The Kodo design language, which has already reached Mazda 6 and Mazda 3 models after launching with the Mazda CX-5, will make its next appearance in the highly-anticipated 2015 MX-5 roadster. With an experienced designer like Rice heading up creative operations in Europe, expect to continue to see high-level innovation and design out of Mazda in the future.