And it's not hard to see why. While so many other Japanese automakers still adhere to the "design by commitee" process, Mazda stands out for being the only one with a clearly defined aesthetic direction: its Kodo design language.
To celebrate its strong link with good design, Mazda has opened the Mazda Design: The Car as Art exhibition as a part of Milan Design Week, and brought out two new concepts especially for the occasion - the Bike By Kodo, and Sofa By Kodo.
The Bike By Kodo is a minimalist interpretation of a featherweight single-speed road bicycle, with bare handlebars and a frame made from a single sheet of hand-hammered steel.
The saddle is hand-stitched black leather, and carbon-fibre aero wheels are designed for speed.
Mazda says it draws inspiration from the new MX-5 (which will also share the spotlight at Milan), and with the Bike By Kodo's lightweight construction and elegent simplicity, we can understand why.
The Sofa By Kodo is the polar opposite. Comfort reigns supreme here, and rather than speed and lightness the emphasis is on craftsmanship and refinement.
Built in collaboration with Italian furniture makers, the Sofa By Kodo is meant to evoke the form of the new CX-3, which will also be on display
Other items at Mazda's exhibition include a wine cooler fashioned from a single sheet of copper (much like the Bike By Kodo's frame) by Japan's Gyokusendo metal-working studio, as well as a laquered box made by traditional craftsman Kinjo-Ikkokusai.
“Over the past few years, design has become an essential part of who we are, adding an artistic value to the entire Mazda brand experience,” said Masahiro Moro, Mazda’s Managing Executive Officer of Global Marketing.
“As such, it only makes sense that we introduce our design messages here in Milan, a city of the apex of the design world, in order to elevate our brand image."