What does a Japanese eagle, an America’s Cup yacht, and the works of a 1920s’ sculptor have in common? Each played a role in inspiring and influencing the Infiniti global design team, as they created their latest work, the Vision Qe concept.
Fresh from its recent debut in Tokyo, core members of the Infiniti global design team share insights on the concept’s inception and varied sources that inspired and influenced them.
Previewing Infiniti’s first all-electric model, the sleek Vision Qe fastback sedan, came to life under the leadership of Senior Vice President for Global Design Alfonso Albaisa, and Infiniti Senior Design Director Taisuke Nakamura.
Artistry in motion
All models of Infiniti’s future have been crafted under an evolved design language, called Artistry in Motion. The new design form aims to deliver products that blend evocative, artful design with powerful, yet graceful movement.
“Inspired by design philosophies from Japan, Infiniti’s specific blend of artistry embraces the richness of simplicity to deliver something much more complex,” said Albaisa.
Driven to deliver a sense of speed
For the Vision Qe concept Infiniti’s global design team crafted a design embodying the philosophy of “Sho” to deliver a sense of speed.
For Design Manager Hideo Komuro, a near perfect example of “Sho” can be found in the flying monohull sailboats competing in the America’s Cup yacht race.
“Visually, such vessels showcase a sense of speed, even when docked,” said Komuro. “We wanted to replicate this sense of speed and soaring with the Vision Qe concept.”
Everything flows in single line
Infiniti Exterior Designer Kazuki Aoyama drew the initial design sketch for the Vision Qe and says: “Everything isanchored around a single pure gesture. A single line flows from the Infiniti emblem at the front, along the bodyside, and accelerates towards the rear, and everything follows that line.”
Aoyama’s sketches, initially on paper, became the baseline for the entire project.
Inspired by a powerful bird soaring
Team members studied Japanese eagles in flight, even visiting wildlife sanctuaries on their own time to capture photos of the powerful birds of prey soaring.
“While ideating on the Vision Qe concept’s profile, they examined the streamlined shape an eagle makes when diving for prey -with its wings tucked back to reduce drag and maximize speed,” said Program Design Director Dai Sato.
In early stages of the project, the team developed a speed form: a model, devoid of typical production details such as doors and mirrors to explore the shape, profile and proportions.
“It looked more like a sculpture of an eagle diving than anything from the automotive realm,” explained Hideo Komuro.
In examining the sketches and speed form, Albaisa and Nakamura noted parallels between the lines and a powerful bird soaring in flight. For Albaisa, the shape also conjured images of the works of one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th century, Constantin Brancusi, particularly his “Bird in Space” piece.
Albaisa challenged the team to “replicate the simplicity and purity of such a sculpture, while creating something visually powerful” by holding firm to a single-line gesture and adding only essential elements when crafting the sleek fastback sedan’s profile.
Paint channels a distant galaxy
Deputy general manager Gunda Matsumoto and Color designer Hirofumi Akaike created the Vision Qe concept’s Shadow blue paint.
The overarching goal was twofold: develop a bespoke color that could help bring Infiniti’s artistry in motion to life and leverage the philosophy of “Kabuku” to create a finish that elicits a sense of the extraordinary.
In defining the precise color, the team explored gloss and satin finishes and studied inclusion of elements such as carbon nanotubes, glass and gold flakes to bring a sense of depth and mystique.
Gunda Matsumoto says: “In alignment with our evolved brand identity, our starting point was blue and gold, and we created a complex fusion, that when viewed up close, looks a little like an image from space. The gold flakes are positioned on different angles to give a sense of depth, almost like viewing stars in a distant galaxy”.
The designers also paid particular attention to the treatment of the concept’s wheels ensuring they offer a distinctive contrast from the dark blue body color.
The team adjusted the level of gradiation for the gold treatment on the wheels, increasing transparency from the outer to innermost area of the spokes. The result, says Akaike, is “a greater sense of dynamism”.
Kenji Yamauchi, a digital and clay modeler within the global Infiniti design team led the transformation from digital render to physical concept vehicle. Unlike typical design projects, the Vision Qe concept came to life without clay models. After finalizing the vehicle in digital form, Yamauchi created a scale rapid prototype model of the Vision Qe (approximately 50cm long) that allowed the team to examine the concept’s character and proportions, ahead of producing a full-scale model.
Bimodal lighting delivers a warm welcome
The Vision Qe concept features a unique bimodal illumination. Exterior Designer Masanobu Ino says: “Gold illumination creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere when the vehicle is in standby mode. We imagined that once the start button is depressed, the concept switches to the drive mode and the frontal illumination switches to white, while the rear digital piano keys transform to a vibrant shade of red.”
Design signatures evolve for EV era
Infiniti’s double arch signature has been reimagined for the EV era. Rather than a physical radiator grille, the graphic is now represented by sculpted lines within the front facia and illuminated with a bright LED outline.
Taisuke Nakamura says: “We are bringing Infiniti’s artistry into the digital realm, and the lighting signatures on the Vision Qe concept give you a sense for how that comes to life. Our digital piano key lighting has evolved and expanded to run the full width of the vehicle and is accompanied by an illuminated 3D INFINITI emblem.”
Infiniti’s future vision leverages over 180 years of experience
Designing any concept vehicle requires a team of dozens, but the core group responsible for the Infiniti Vision Qe consisted of nine. This core group of nine talented individuals, drew on over 180 years of cumulative experience working for INFINITI and Nissan design. The team are responsible for an array of models including the pioneering Infiniti FX, Q60 luxury coupe and recently revealed QX Monograph.
Crafted to evoke a deeper emotional response
Each member who worked on the project expressed a desire for Infiniti’s distinctive blend of artistry to leave an impactful impression.
Infiniti Exterior Designer Masanobu Ino says: “As designers, we aren’t seeking to create something that’s just beautiful, rather, we want to create something that evokes a deeper response. If people feel a sense of shock or intrigue when looking at the Vision Qe concept, that’s more in line with our intention and brings to life the philosophy of Kabuku. Pairing beauty with a deeper emotional response was our goal.”
The Vision Qe concept is currently on display at Infiniti’s global headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, and will make its motor show debut in 2024.