• Sep 13th 2006 at 5:12PM
  • 5

Barely a year into his second stint at Pininfarina, director of design Ken Okuyama has been let go by the Italian design firm. Ken was previously with the company back in 1995 and is credited with designing the Enzo and 612, among others. We recently ran into him at the Pasadena Art Center Car Classic held at the Pasadena Art Center College of Design, where he remains on staff. He was also up in Pebble Beach where he was an honorary judge at the Concours d'Elegance close to where Pininfarina and Ferrari also showed off their new 599 GTB, as well as the James Glickenhaus-commissioned 612 P4/5 and Peter Kalikow 612K.

Replacing Okuyama will be company Chairman Andrea Pininfarina until a permanent replacement is found. Ken's philosophy of emphasizing practical design techniques and a more rigid engineering-based approach to projects led some to speculate that he might not be long for Pininfarina. Indeed, some have argued that Pininfarina and Ferrari have lost some of the passion that saw breathtakingly beautiful new models rolling out of Maranello every few years. Slightly more conservative in design (albeit more user-friendly and real-world practical), the 612, 599 and F430 have been criticized by some of the die-hard Ferrari fans out there for being too tame.

[Source: Automotive News - sub required]

UPDATE: After posting this article we received an e-mail from Mr. Okuyama. In it he explains that the success of his other industrial design projects and the time commitment they required, factored into the decision to not renew the contract at Pininfarina. The "Ken Okuyama" brand of interior design products and optical glass will continue to grow, but no decision has been made about his automotive design consultancy options as of yet.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 9 Years Ago
      He is excellent, but not necessarily Italian.

      However, I think he'd fit in perfectly with the Asian or German companies.

      Italy is often about form over function.
      German and Japan are often about the latter, or a mix of the two.

      I have the utmost respect for what he's done mechanically. And visually his machines look like what they are - the best driving machines. But Ferrari is also about being the most beautiful. Many of Ken's Ferraris are beautiful to car lovers, as we know why they look as they do, but not so much to the general public.

      To me, he wasn't an excellent fit for Ferrari, despite making some excellent automobiles. I do, however, look forward to anything he does.
      • 9 Years Ago
      599 was disappointing. Even the interior is ugly.
      The 612 is just nasty. Awful proportions.
      Its hard to screw up a Ferrari.
      I dont think Mr. Okyuyama "designed" any of those cars
      • 9 Years Ago
      Ken really is THE BEST automotive designer in the industry. His designs are so creative and unique. Hope Ken the best with his future endeavors!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wish him well on his new ventures. It's sad that Ferrari purists hate, what made the new Ferrari's more practical than most supercars.

      It's also a shame that designers of icons are underappreciated until years pass between the desgin and customer tastes.

      I wish someone would dare design cars in the spirit of the Lamborghini Miura of times past. The 2006 concept was a great start, but too many "purists" shot it down and a great idea was trashed.

      Maybe Ken Okuyama will be hired on by Bertone and will do his magic there. Venturing out on one's own like Henrik Fisker did is not always the best decision.
      • 9 Years Ago
      one of the big 2.5 (or toyota) should pick this guy up...
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