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Talking Infiniti with Shiro Nakamura, Nissan’s Chief Creative Officer

Just after the reveal of the Infiniti JX, the marques’s 3-row, 7-passenger, luxury crossover concept, I had the chance to sit down with Shiro Nakamura, Senior Vice President and Chief Creative Officer at Nissan/Infiniti for dinner and a conversation that covered a wide range of topics. We talked about everything from his latest JX concept to his love of architecture and jazz music (he’s an avid fan and practioner of the stand up bass) and what we can expect from Infiniti in the next few years. Here are a few of our conversational riffs and rim shots stitched together into a casual interview:

Talking Infiniti with Shiro Nakamura, Nissans Chief Creative Officer imageWe came to dinner in QX56, Infiniti’s 3-row, 7- passenger SUV flagship. Why do another 3-row, 7-passenger crossover?

“For the US market. The US Market is our most popular market and has been asking for this kind of vehicle. To be honest, this type of vehicle is not my favorite to design. Every designer wants to work on something sporty – like a 2-door coupe…you know…balancing roominess and design. [The JX] is not the ultimate expression of emotion. But it is just a beginning – the look of things to come.”

So what is coming?

“We will soon be showing a new EV concept, as well as a small Infiniti car, and then, well, the next generation G.”

What is your favorite current Infiniti design?

“I like the FX. It is very expressive, very emotional. It is very curvy too, like a human body. Like a woman.”

On the near future of the brand:

“We will be very aggressive with Infiniti. We see much opportunity with Infiniti and much competition from brands like Audi. We need to expand by at least two or three times…we need to expand beyond America..”

To where?

Talking Infiniti with Shiro Nakamura, Nissans Chief Creative Officer image

“America is our biggest volume, but growth is stable…like this (while drawing his hand in a slow horizontal motion through the air). “We need to grow other markets – China, Russia, Middle-East – like this (this time slashing the air again in a fast, upward chop.)

To do this, don’t you need some sort of halo car – like the Essence Concept? Why isn’t that coming?

“Ah, you like it, yes? Believe me, I am personally working very very hard on it… You know, two years ago, here at Pebble, we brought the Essence Concept in conjunction with Louis Vuitton and a gentleman made an offer on the car – for $5 million dollars!”

Who was he?

“I don’t know! Just some rich guy!”

Let’s change gears a bit. Infiniti’s current advertising campaigns all utilize a brush stroke silhouette of the vehicles. Was this your idea?


Talking Infiniti with Shiro Nakamura, Nissans Chief Creative Officer imageSo when you are designing a car, do you always start with a brush and ink?

“Not necessarily, but I always say, if you cannot draw your car by a few brush strokes, you have failed. The brush stroke – calligraphy – is very delicate.”

“Like the JX profile – it only needs 2 or 3 to be expressed. If you don’t have a clear idea in 2 or 3 lines, you don’t have focus. If you can’t express it in three strokes, you have to go back to work!”

Speaking of work, if you weren’t a designer of cars, what would you be designing – or doing..?


…and a professional jazz musician?


Talking Infiniti with Shiro Nakamura, Nissans Chief Creative Officer imageSo who are your favorite jazz musicians?

“Overall, I like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock – and Ron Carter on bass.”

Any particular era – the ‘Cool Jazz’ or Miles Davis’ Sketches of Spain?

“Later – after Sketches of Spain. The cool era was too cool. I liked the mid-60s…”

Check out more Infiniti JX Concept pictures in the gallery and stay tuned for the production version’s debut November 16 at the Los Angeles International Autoshow.

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I totally agree that the Infiniti brand should be expanded to different nations. Infiniti is really a great brand and it sucks that people in other nations that can afford them, can't have them. Especially in places like Dubai where they are balling!

If Infiniti can learn anything from a recession is that, EXPAND. The more money they have coming in, the better it will be for them and us Infiniti lovers.
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