Kevin Rice has been named as the new creative director of Mazda, a move that strengthens the design team in Europe. The appointment took effect on October 1. He is overseeing the European creative design process and is focused on further developing the "KODO – Soul of Motion" design language. This move marks the return of Rice to the automaker’s Mazda's European R&D Centre in Oberursel, Germany.
Rice served as a senior designer from 1995 to 2000. He is credited for having contributed to numerous proposals for future Mazda units, which include the RX-8. He will be leading the development of the 'Neospace' show car, which was displayed at the 1999 Frankfurt Motor Show.
He later spent 13 years at BMW, where he handled the exterior development of several models that include the new 3 and 4 series. Rice, a 49-year-old British national, graduated from the Transportation Design at Coventry University. Before becoming a part of Mazda in 1995, he worked at Italdesign in Italy and Opel in Germany.
Peter Birtwhistle, Chief Designer at Mazda Research Europe, said that the company is “really excited” in Rice’s comeback, adding that his experience at BMW comes with the extra dimension that will transfer excellently to its European design activities.
Rice responded by saying that he is “delighted” to be a part of a family under the guidance of a convention-defying approach to designing and building cars that people seek to own. He said that he considers it his “personal challenge” to boost the competitive edge of its KODO-inspired models and to build on the positive momentum of the brand. [source: Mazda]