Shiro Nakamura (TRAN, ’81)
“I think that more designers have to understand the value of society and the people they are creating the vehicles for.”
Shiro Nakamura is senior vice president and design director for Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. in Tokyo, where he oversees the creation of distinctive and innovative designs including the Nissan 350Z, Titan and Murano, as well as Infiniti M and FX45. Nakamura is the president of both Nissan Design America and Nissan Design Europe. Prior to joining Nissan in 1999, Nakamura spent more than 25 years at Isuzu Motors Ltd., overseeing the design development of models such as VehiCROSS and Gemini. Prior to that, Nakamura worked at the General Motors Advanced Design Studio in Michigan. Nakamura has received numerous awards, including the 2002 and 2003 Automotive News All Stars Design award.
What led you to a career in transportation design?
As a young child I was interested in any and all forms of transportation, and I enjoyed drawing cars and trains. My interest in cars continued to grow, and around the age of 13 I read a book which highlighted Italian car design. I was fascinated. I learned more about 1960s Italian and American designs in particular, and realized that I wanted to design cars.
What do you see as your most exciting career achievement?
Joining Nissan in 1999. Since then I have helped provide what I feel is a strong design product. At the same time I reorganized Nissanâ€™s global design organization and facilities.
What do you think has been the most significant development in the Transportation Design Field in recent years?
I donâ€™t think itâ€™s here yet, but will be here in about a decade with the development of new technologies and new markets.
Where do you see transportation design going in the future?
Everyone knows that we are facing environmental issues that affect the industry. All companies are working very hard to overcome this issue. I think that it is not an easy task; it is a time of big change for the automobile as we know it—the internal combustion engine will be gone in 100 years. That is why today we are working on hybrids and electric vehicles.
What is your advice for recent graduates in the transportation design field?
I think more designers have to understand the value of society and the people they are creating the vehicles for. Without knowing that, it makes no sense to create just a shape for a vehicle. Designers have to open their minds to other peoples and societies. They must have empathy for other people and other cultures, and remember that itâ€™s not only their own culture that their designs will be serving.
What kind of car do you drive?
I have a Nissan GT-R that I enjoy driving on weekends.