Ever wondered what inspires a car designer?

Mazda designer Jo Stenuit tours Milan Design Week and reveals unusual inspiration sources

Think being a car designer involves just sharpening your pencil and spending hours at a drawing board? Think again. We accompanied Mazda designer Jo Stenuit as he toured Milan Design Week and discovered how even everyday objects can offer inspiration.

Mazda_Jo Stenuit

Jo has a resource of 15,000 images on his computer that he can draw on when he’s looking for inspiration and he’s always looking to supplement those. “At the studio we spent two weeks creating our own images,” he reveals. “We had people throwing water and seeing what shapes came out, others dressed in latex suits just making shapes with their bodies. Our bosses thought it might be a waste of time but we were creating our own inspiration.”

Here are eight objects from Milan Design Week that Jo picked out as pointing to possible future trends:

bike  resize

“When you’re designing something new and fresh you have to go right back to the beginning. That’s what the designer of this exercise bike must have done and I think the results are incredible.” (www.ciclotte.com)


“Screens will become increasingly important in cars. You can’t have an overload of information in a car so I’m interested in advances in technology because of the solutions they may provide. Maybe we could look at projecting onto the dash in the future.” (www.press.asus.com)

Mazda_light shades

“I’m not particularly interested in the design of these light shades but I like the way they go from two to three dimensional. Sometimes we cut paper like this, again to make our own inspiration.” (www.sdaa.es)

Mazda_Wooden chair

“Things always come back into fashion. The use of wood is becoming increasingly popular and craftsmanship is as important as it’s always been.” (www.pinwu.net)


“You could have a whole ceremony behind starting a car. The Japanese tea ceremony is something we might draw inspiration from.”

neon chairs resize

“We picked up on the trend for neon a little while back. A colour like this would be too much to use as a seat cover for example but we could use it as an accent.” (www.e15.com)

Mazda_marble table

“Marble is the kind of material that was popular with our parents and like wood it’s now coming back into fashion.” (www.e15.com)


“Advances in LED technology mean you can have light bulbs now that become nothing. That could have a huge influence on the shape of cars at the front.”