Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) today named Julien Montousse as director of design at its Irvine, USA-based design studio.

Montousse joined Mazda in 2009, heading up interior design at Mazda’s North American studio with long-term assignments at the carmaker’s headquarters in Hiroshima, Japan. In that role, Montousse helped propel the production design process of Mazda’s award-winning new-generation line-up, including the all-new Mazda MX-5 and current-generation Mazda6, to achieve a true driver-centric cockpit experience. In Montousse’s new position, he will oversee all of Mazda’s North American design operations, including next-generation vehicle design, exterior, interior and brand strategy development.

“Through our KODO – Soul of Motion design ethos, we’ve come so far to instil a premium aura throughout our new-generation line-up,” said Montousse. “I am honoured to have been chosen to lead our efforts at MNAO, and I look forward to continuing to elevate the Mazda brand with advanced vehicle architectures, purposeful aesthetics and unique consumer experiences.”

“Julien has been instrumental in strengthening Mazda’s overall direction through his keen focus on creating driving atmospheres focused on the experience of driving,” said Masamitsu Koike, vice president R&D at MNAO. “He is an invaluable asset to have on our team and an excellent ambassador of the Mazda brand.” In his new position, Montousse will report directly to Koike.

“Julien brings to Mazda a deep understanding of form language that complements our worldwide design efforts and adds a layer of depth to KODO design that keeps pushing the boundaries in terms of sophistication and style,” said Ikuo Maeda, Mazda’s global chief of design. “I congratulate him on his appointment and welcome him to the next chapter of his career as MNAO’s director of design.”

Located near Los Angeles, the Irvine studio is one of five Mazda design centres across the globe, including two in Japan, one in China and another in Oberursel, Germany. The latter is led by Kevin Rice, Mazda’s European director of design.