Koji NAGANO - Executive Design Director for Datsun, Vice President of Nissan Design Europe, General Manager of the Global Design Strategy Department
Who is Koji Nagano?
As the Vice President of Nissan Design Europe (NDE), the Executive Design Director for Datsun, and General Manager of the Global Design Strategy Department, Koji Nagano splits his time equally between the UK and Japan.
He is responsible for the design and development direction at Nissan Design Europe (NDE), the Datsun brand, and oversees design strategy, design communications, visual identity and space design like retail outlets or motor show booths. He spends two weeks at a time in each location and sees a key part of his role as "cultivating creativity" and inspiring enthusiasm across his teams.
Koji Nagano has worked for Nissan all over the world for the past 35 years. He joined as a junior designer in 1980 after leaving university.
One of his first assignments was designing small parts for the exterior of vehicles, including door handles and aluminium wheels. His first full project was for the Nissan Sunny and then the Silvia.
In 1987 he moved to the United States of America for just over a year, to study at the Art Center College of Design. Seven years later he was asked to go Munich, Germany, to become Studio Chief Designer of NDE. There, he led the design of the Primera Wagon and Terrano II before returning to Japan in 1997.
He continued to work his way up through senior design positions, including for the Infiniti range, before moving to his current position as Vice President of NDE, now based in Paddington, in 2013.
Achievements at Nissan
Koji Nagano is most proud of his responsibility for the Silvia (S13) as it was the first vehicle he fully designed, modelled, and then saw through to production. He says that this is a vehicle that he is very proud of because he had only been at Nissan for a short time when he designed it, yet it went on to win numerous awards - internally and externally - and is still seen on the roads today. Also, he developed the first Murano and Infiniti FX as a Chief Designer. He says those created a new design momentum of crossover category.
One of the "nicest surprises" for Koji Nagano was his time studying art in America. He says the culture change was felt more acutely on his return to Japan than when he landed in the U.S in the late eighties. However, it is this travelling that showed him different cultures and interests from around the world and therefore helped the design influences in key markets.
Why is Nissan Different?
"Nissan is not a rigid organisation," Koji Nagano says. "It is one that has a flexibility which allows us to respond to changing situations and trends. We are culturally very diverse - there are 13 different nationalities in our London design studio today - which means we all learn from a wide variety of interests and passions."
Koji Nagano believes that as technology continues to advance rapidly, so the automotive industry will continue to speed up the way that it designs and produces cars. He says that Nissan has been leading and setting the trends for many years and it will continue to do so because it puts design talent at the centre of everything it does.
In Koji Nagano's Personal Time
Koji Nagano enjoys spending time with his family in Japan. He also has a love of sports and has played squash competitively. Designing and being creative is still one of his big passions and he regularly draws and paints with water colours.
Koji Nagano's Current Ride
In London when he occasionally drives, Koji Nagano uses a Qashqai, while in Japan he has a Fuga. His first car was a red Nissan Skyline.