Craftsmanship Stories | Norio Terauchi, Clay Modeller

Inside Mazda

April 15, 2016

Breathing Life into a Sketch through the Unique Beauty of Sculpture

Norio Terauchi, the Mazda design team’s clay modeller, sees the designer’s paper sketch and recognizes that vision by creating a three-dimensional object with his outstanding skills. That is the moment when what was merely an idea gains a distinct identity. Terauchi infuses a soul into the form as he sculpts the clay.
Craftsmanship Stories: Norio Terauchi, Clay Modeller

Norio Terauchi, the Mazda design team’s clay modeller, sees the designer’s paper sketch and recognizes that vision by creating a three-dimensional object with his outstanding skills. That is the moment when what was merely an idea gains a distinct identity. Terauchi infuses a soul into the form as he sculpts the clay.

Sensuous Beauty Created by Human Touch

A clay modeller’s job is to transform the designer’s idea into a three-dimensional object using automotive modelling clay. Through this process, the design moves closer to reality. “Although this is the golden era of digital technology, Mazda is working hard on design development using handmade clay models,” Terauchi says.

“What is good about clay modelling is that it enables us to intuitively create a form that appeals to people’s hearts,” Terauchi says. “While making repeated slight changes, a perfect line gradually emerges. I think this is a sensuous beauty that is difficult to reproduce through digital technology.” The clay modeller’s passion for sculpted beauty firmly supports Mazda Design’s foundation.

Creating Space with A Sense of Unity through Repeated Fine-Tuning

“As a clay modeller, I care particularly about adjustments that make reflected light look beautiful,” Terauchi says. “If something is wrong with the surface, light doesn’t reflect back smoothly. I fine-tune the surface finish with aluminum film over and over again. When it comes to the interior design, providing a sense of unity between the different parts is important. If there is a design inconsistency between the instrument panel and the door trim, for example, the space won’t have a sense of unity. Adjustments to attain unity are important.”

Digital technology is often used to express the delicate textures of materials. “I leave digital technology to what it is good at and concentrate on expressing what clay modelling alone can express. Ultimately, that results in the creation of high-quality design.”

Being a Clay Modeller Capable of Making Proposals with Convincing Forms

Mazda’s clay modellers are sometimes required to make proposals regarding design. “Sometimes, the form envisioned by the designer can’t be created in the real world,” Terauchi says. “In such cases, I make an alternative proposal from my point of view as a clay modeller. That’s not at all unusual at Mazda. I can make those kinds of proposals because I am always thinking about what the design is intended to express. In any case, clay modellers have to try to increase their power of persuasion through the beauty of the sculpted form. I don’t do the talking but let the form speak for itself. Presenting a form that satisfies everyone is sure to contribute to better quality.” Terauchi’s words express his pride as a clay modeller who tirelessly pursues beauty.

Mazda Design Creates New Products through the Harmony of Brilliant Technology and Ideas

It is essential for clay modellers to collaborate with digital modellers, who use computer software to create 3D models. In this way, forms created through the art of sculpture can be checked with digital technology. Furthermore, the forms refined through digital technology can be further enhanced through clay modelling. Through this collaborative cycle, an attractive design that appeals to people’s hearts is turned into a tangible form. And what starts as one person’s passion, becomes energy that fuels the team as a whole, creating beauty that captures people’s hearts.