"Designing a car involves cooperation that interlaces the cultures and mentalities of different people."
released on January 2004
Executive Technical Advisor, Design Division, Toyota Techno Service Corporation
Kazuo Morohoshi became a designer at Toyota during a turning point in the design development of the company and in Japan. "The cars Japan produced prior to opening up and studying the market lacked the right proportions," said Morohoshi about the 1960s. "For us, the essential thing was to understand what shape a car should have."
The outside market showed great promise. Going to the source, or genchi genbutsu, would play a key role in helping Toyota rethink form, a crucial factor in its success.
Still employed by Toyota, Morohoshi left Japan to explore American society for one year at the Illinois Institute of Technology. His initial understanding of U.S. lifestyle and culture had come from lectures, books and seminars. Through direct contact, Morohoshi learned about Western ways. He took road trips across America and observed cultural aspects, as well as small physical details. Americans, for instance, generally have larger feet and need larger car pedals. Such points became part of fusing Eastern and Western cultures through design.
When Morohoshi returned to Japan, he shared these experiences and reflected this newfound insight into his work. Japanese designers realized that in order to gain presence overseas, they had to revise their concept of dimensions, space and road systems.
Morohoshi's next trip to America involved an even greater challenge — establishing Calty, Toyota's first design center in the U.S. Its objective was to blend cross-border elements in Toyota's products. The beginning was marked by miscommunication and culture clashes, but, with continuous input from both sides, they were able to bridge these gaps through design. In just a few short years, Toyota gained market share and built up its image in the United States. Calty had achieved its goal.
Morohoshi at the drawing central Tokyo, 1966 table developing the Corolla Van, 1965
Newly assigned at the Design Center, Morohoshi analyzes one of the first Corolla clay models.
"Designing a car involves cooperation that interlaces the cultures and mentalities of different people," commented Morohoshi in an interview.
"In this century, we believe it is very important to communicate a number of things with products: the culture from which they originate, the one they are intended for and an unmistakable stylistic-technological identity. Today, thanks to our design centers throughout the world, we can focus our efforts by creating cars that are not specific to any one culture."