Jo Stenuit: »Everything is connected!«

Why is it that the mentality of the Belgians is so wonderfully harmonized with that in Japan? And what does this have to do with loud and quiet? Let's say this much: It's all about the small, the big - and the design. A visit with Jo Stenuit, Design Director at Mazda Europe.
Text Alfred Rzyski
Photo Matthias Mederer ·

»I've done a lot of things in life without thinking too much,« says Jo Stenuit. Fortunately - we say. For otherwise the conversation during the visit to the Design Director at Mazda Europe for ramp #55 wouldn't have been half as interesting as it was. What do we mean? Stenuit has been working as a designer in the automotive industry for some 25 years, 23 of them at Mazda alone. He switched to the Japanese manufacturer at a time when many saw it as a risk. He didn't. It paid off. As a designer, Stenuit celebrated great successes at Mazda. And on a personal level, it's a good fit for him in Japan anyway.

He uses an example to explain how that works: By his own admission, it took the Belgian three years to really arrive in Germany. In Japan, that was only three months. »Simply because people are open there,« he explains. To elaborate: In Europe, the focus is on the individual; in Japan, it's on the team. Which suits him - because, like the Japanese, he tends to be quieter: »We Belgians are the hard-working guys in the background.«

And then there's a realization: »Design is very much dependent on the culture and history of a country.«

Stenuit quickly learned that a willingness to adapt helps in this balancing act between cultures. For instance, when he was asked to define the Visual Identity with marketing experts. It all started with the font, not the big picture, as he would have preferred. »I thought it was a bit strange, why shouldn't we talk about the big thing first and then the small things? But it worked very well,« he admits. Because: »Through these conversations, you got to the big things.« After all, those are precisely what his work involves: Stenuit is now also involved in photo shoots and showroom design. Which then again is related to Mazda's own claim to be »different« as a brand.

Throughout the interview, he reveals how Mazda achieves that - but also why Mazda's Japanese design is catching on in Europe and the U.S., too. And we also get to know his chef, Hiro Sakai.

mehr aus dieser ausgabe

ramp shop

Latest articles

Daytona calling: the 24-hour guide

This weekend, the 24-hour race at Daytona is coming up - and the manufacturers are coming from all over the world. Also starting again: Porsche, with the 963, which aims to build on the successes of the Group C legends 956 and 962. But the Bavarian colleagues from BMW are also back - we summarise the most important details.

Paul Newman: Blue-Eyed Cool

He lived an Oscar-worthy life: today Paul Newman would have turned 98. The story of the man who thrilled women and film critics alike, while also being able to drive a car fast and giving a watch its current nickname.

Porsche Vision 357: Homage to the 356

On 8 June 1948, 75 years ago, the 356 "No. 1" Roadster became the first automobile to be registered under the Porsche name - the birth of the sports car brand. Porsche is starting its anniversary year with the Vision 357, which has now been unveiled. And how.

I am ... Amy Shore

Amy Shore is one of Europe's finest and best-known car photographers. She not only loves classic cars, she lives them. Yet not too many people know the woman behind the camera. To kick off ramp's new interview series "I am ...", we get to know the 31-year-old. Oh and by the way, the British woman has also done a shoot for the upcoming ramp #60.