Space Design Secrets From Honda

We sat down with Honda designer, Kota Hagiwara, to understand how he makes space for our everyday dreams in each vehicle.

Space is at the heart of Honda’s automotive designs. The design ethos ‘man maximum, machine minimum’ (M/M) ensures that space inside the vehicles is maximised for the driver and the passengers, whilst minimising the room needed for mechanical components.

We met with Honda designer, Kota, to understand how this human-centric philosophy means that Honda owners can be assured that they will be spending time in a space that has been designed with them in mind.

How does the ‘man maximum, machine minimum’ ethos influence your design decisions?

Whilst the M/M concept influences the overall design of the car, I believe that it is also an ethical concept – it requires us to begin from the user’s point of view and ensures that we create spaces that optimise the driver’s freedom.

You may be surprised to hear that there is no handbook on M/M at Honda - no official training or instructions on how to implement this ethos. This motivates us as designers to be more creative with the spaces we are developing within and outside of the vehicle.

We also have to work very closely with the engineers as there are many mechanical restrictions and regulations to take into consideration. Together, we spend a lot of time really focusing on what will deliver the best space for the driver and passengers in the vehicle.

There is no handbook on M/M at Honda... This motivates us as designers to be more creative with the spaces we are developing.

How important is space when it comes to driver and passenger experience?​

It is incredibly important to me that my design decisions provide drivers and passengers with a high degree of flexibility, so they can use the space within the vehicle in many different ways that suit them.

I really focus on creating ‘clean designs’ which means that there is nothing disrupting the view or space inside the vehicle. My aim is that this creates a ‘blank canvas’ for the people using the car and allows them to see the versatility of the space available to them.

Are there any space saving features in the vehicles that drivers and passengers might not be aware of?

You’ll find that the floor in Honda vehicles, particularly the HR-V e:HEV, are low and flat. This allows for two things: firstly, there is more space for the drivers and passengers to sit in a relaxed position and secondly, it means the overall vehicle height is lower – creating a sportier look in the exterior.

A lot of time and attention has been put into the luggage compartment of all the vehicles. A great example of this is the boot within the e:HEV, where the boot has no ridges or protruding walls which allows people to configure the space within the vehicle to exactly how they need it to be.

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