Watch: Fireside Chat: Shiro Nakamura

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A giant of car design, Shiro Nakamura, through his work with Nissan, helped forge a Japanese design identity with models like the Cube and the GTR. Car Design News spoke to him about his new studios, his early successes and how form is distilled through concepts


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Over nearly two decades Shiro Nakamura fostered a design culture at Nissan that helped define Japanese design. A diverse model range, which made room for contrasting projects like adroit city car the Cube and the rapid GTR assures Nakamura place in the pantheon of great designers. At Car Design Dialogues Asia, CDN editor James McLachlan spoke at length with Nakamura.

The designer documented his early career at Isuzu, his move to Nissan and how he helped shape Japanese car culture. Nakamura offered insights into the design thinking behind contrasting cars like the Nissan 350z and the Isuzu Vehicross. Ever humble, Nakamura said he worked best in a team of younger designers who he could direct and cajole towards greater creativity and thinking. Riffing off his love of jazz, the designer likened himself to the band leader who assembles and directs the talent. Elements of Japanese culture: cow carts, traditional Japanese architecture and anime played out into models like the Nissan Cube. Nakamura, whose own career was inspired by postwar masters like GM’s Bill Mitchell and, of course Giugiaro, explained how designing the Cube was a complete antithesis to his schooling and all the more interesting for it. 

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