A good example of this are Mazda Sassou’s exterior lights, which are one of the concept’s most exciting features, and one of the most difficult to realise. The team first built a full-sized functional front end based on design sketches and material selections, and tested it indoors, in showroom lighting conditions, and outdoors in sunlight. Changes were made until just the right type of exterior colour, surface treatment with translucency and the lighting technology behind this surface was found. Once finalised, they were milled using the same process as the body panels and then mounted to the front and rear of the final show car version.
“Sassou’s front and rear lights are unique in the way they combine materials, design graphics and lighting technology. It took a lot of testing with materials and paint and light technologies to get what we were looking for,” said Birtwhistle. “This process not only resulted in a unique lighting system, but the knowledge we gained will be helpful in future projects as well.”
The 'Mazda Alive' illumination system also played a decisive role in the interior design of the Mazda Sassou. The interior design team, lead by Mickael Loyer, had already conceived a truly unique interior with an appealing look and feel, and that included convenience features - like a USB stick activated hard disc drive system - that might someday be employed in a Mazda B-car. The dashboard assembly went through the same design stages as the exterior did, from concept to sketch to epoxy resin modelling.
Extensive material testing was done by the entire design team to achieve the desired effect of hidden lighting, revealed in a surprising and pleasing way when an interior system is activated.
Mazda Sassou’s high-tech centre stack, instrument graphics door panels and seats were realised using the same design process as the exterior.
“You can see by the dashboard sketches just how complicated an idea like this can be,” said Birtwhistle. “Mazda design teams, whether in Europe, North America or Japan, are not only artists and automotive designers; they are also highly skilled at applying their creativity in a way that can be transformed into real world solutions.”
An advanced interpretation of Zoom-Zoom stylishness, Mazda Sassou visually communicates the dynamic potential of the Mazda brand, and mixes this with a youthful lightness and surprising hidden features never before seen on a Mazda concept. The process by which Mazda’s European design team realised their ideas in this year’s most interesting show car is another example of the long Mazda tradition of thinking outside the envelope and having the expertise to make these ideas a reality.Published 14 November 2005