An interview about where Seiji Watanabe draws inspiration and a new design vision for Mitsubishi Motors.
Seiji Watanabe was named Corporate Officer and Division General Manager of Design for Mitsubishi Motors Corporation in April 2020. With over 30 years of automotive design experience, he will lead the global design teams to shape and refine the identity of Mitsubishi Motors rooted in its brand, Drive your Ambition.
What interests you most about design?
I want to enrich people’s lives through automobiles. I believe that automobiles change the scenery of cities.
What challenges you most about automotive design?
Automobile is an act of movement, a moving space, and a tool that reflects yourself. Because automotive design is one of the most exciting aspects of industrial design, I want to enrich people’s life through design by focusing on the tools.
What advice do you have for aspiring automotive designers?
Design is not about designing shapes but about designing a new life. It is important to feel and grasp different values through your own experience, and to express those values through shapes. The basic technique is sketching, and it is important to be able to expand the scope of ideas.
What motivates you?
Creating an existence from “nothing.” I want to surprise people with monozukuri that is pure. The inspiration is “a trick like a playful heart.”
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Car racer, manga creator, artist
What industries outside of automotive design inspire you?
Architecture (Frank Lloyd Wright)
How do you prefer to spend your free time? Are you an artist?
I prefer spending my time in nature or creating something.
Where do you see Mitsubishi Motors standing out among the next generation of electric, connected, shared and/or autonomous vehicles?
Electrification and new experiences through autonomous driving scenes.
How will you express the Design strategy Kunimoto-san initiated and led since 2014? Could you give us some details?
While respecting and continuing the Mitsubishi Motors’ design and heritage, we will pursue a simple (that conveys the design message directly), generous (that makes you feel spacious) and athletic (that excites our nerves from the appearance) design. Our design will express the clarity and beauty of the surface, that you can feel generosity and richness from the car.