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.