NISSAN Design Europe, the brand’s world-class creative hub and starting point for some of today’s most popular and innovative models, this month celebrates 15 years at its current home.
The studio officially opened its doors for business on 25 January 2003 in the Paddington area of London. It followed an extensive renovation program, which transformed a disused and graffiti-covered transport depot – officially called The Rotunda – into an ultra-cool urban design space.
Known internally as NDE, for a decade and a half it has been at the heart of Nissan’s success in Europe – particularly on crossovers. The original Nissan Qashqai concept (2003) began life on the drawing boards of NDE, as have all the production versions that followed.
NDE has also been the driving force behind the Qashqai’s baby brother, the Nissan Juke. The first hints of its muscular stance appeared on the Qazana concept (2009).
Together they pioneered demand for crossovers, and have transformed the European automotive landscape as every other brand followed Nissan’s lead.
A European design studio for Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand, opened on site in 2014.
Mamoru Aoki, vice president, Nissan Design Europe, said: “NDE has made an outstanding contribution to Nissan’s global product range of today, especially with the Qashqai and Juke, which have delivered new levels of choice, versatility and innovation for consumers.”
To celebrate 15 years in its current London home, Mamoru has created a personal list of his 15 favourite designs of the last 15 years (see below). It includes his thoughts on why each model – a mix of concept cars and production vehicles from Nissan and Infiniti – justifies its place on his list.
Mamoru added: “Nissan Design Europe arrived at The Rotunda in 2003, when our design ethos was ‘bold and thoughtful’. In the time since, the concept cars and production vehicles which have started life in that building all clearly display those two characteristics.”
Nissan’s innovative approach to automotive design continues with its latest European model, the new Nissan LEAF, which goes on sale from next month. It is the icon of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision for a more exciting, more confident and more connected future.
“We are celebrating our 15th anniversary this month, but it is just the start. We have a talented team at NDE today, working hard to continue the Nissan success story in Europe for another 15 years and beyond,” Mamoru concluded.
Mamoru Aoki’s Top 15 Nissan Designs
2003 — Qashqai concept
“Previewed Nissan’s plans to innovate and create a new type of vehicle. It was the starting point for what is now the hugely popular European crossover segment.”
2005 — Micra c+c
“The Micra was already full of character and a small car icon around the world, but this really emphasised its cuteness.”
2006 — Terranaut concept
“A preview of the Nissan Pathfinder SUV, uniquely focused on adventurers, scientists and geologists who travel to extreme regions all over the globe.”
2007 — Qashqai
“Nissan’s first C-segment crossover. By the end of 2007, Nissan had sold almost 100,000 in Europe. The model enhancement in 2010 was also very successful.”
2007 — NV200 concept
“An innovative mix of mobile office and utility vehicle in one unique package. The active, intelligent person’s dream vehicle, based on the NV200 van.”
2009 — Qazana concept
“Following the Qashqai’s success, this previewed Nissan’s plan for a smaller crossover. The concept and the styling were bold and unique.”
2010 — Juke
“Nissan’s first B-segment crossover for consumers. An icon of Nissan design, it was further proof of the high potential of what could be created at NDE.”
2013 — Qashqai
“The second generation of Qashqai. It was a big step forward in almost every way, while keeping the practicality and on-road performance – the ‘Qashqai-ness’ – of the original.”
2014 — Nissan Concept 2020
“A masterpiece of automotive design, created to showcase the future Nissan design direction that we call ‘Emotional Geometry’.”
2014 — Infiniti Emerg-E concept
“The ultimate expression of Infiniti, Nissan’s premium brand, which blends inspired performance and future design direction with zero emissions.”
2015 — Gripz concept
“A study of a near-future B-segment crossover blended with sports car characteristics. It also shows future Nissan design direction, and is consistent with the vision of the Concept 2020.”
2015 — Infiniti QX30 concept
“Infiniti’s design vision for a new premium compact crossover, targeting a new generation of individualistic premium customer. It led to the QX30 production vehicle.”
2016 — Blade Glider prototype
“A futuristic, high performance EV in a revolutionary sports car design. A running prototype, it has been hugely popular wherever it has been seen all around the world.”
2016 — Navara EnGuard concept
“Shows a potential aftermarket customisation direction for Navara, with innovative use of Nissan EV batteries to create portable power units for businesses which work remotely.”
2017 — Infiniti Q60 Project Black S
“Explores the potential for a new Infiniti high-performance model line. A radical reinterpretation of the Q60 coupe, hinting at a performance hybrid powertrain and inspired by Formula One energy recovery systems.”