Tony O'Kane | Apr 2, 2009

Mazda has announced that Laurens van den Acker, the man responsible for the automaker's Nagare design language, will be departing the company to "pursue other interests".

Van den Acker ushered in a bold new look for the Japanese manufacturer when he took over Mazda's design division in 2006. The Nagare, Taiki and Furai concepts all bore his touch, and previewed design cues that are only just starting to make their way onto Mazda's production cars.

Mazda Design Chief Ikuo MaedaReplacing van den Acker will be Ikuo Maeda (right), who will take the mantle of General Manager of Mazda's Design Division from April 10.

With cars like the RX-8 and the latest Mazda2 under his belt, Maeda should be more than qualified for the role. But can he cook up designs that are as fresh (and perhaps not quite as polarising) as van den Acker's edgy concepts?

We'll have to wait and see.

(He has a very nice jacket... but what's with the pop-star poses for Mazda designers?)

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