9 Japanese words define the 2022 Nissan Ariya’s design language


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The delicate balance of shape, the use of color or even the clear intention behind a line, elevates the vehicle’s design to resonate with those who view it.

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The 2022 Nissan Aria electric SUV draws inspiration from Japanese craftsmen with a clear intent on how to experience vehicle design, both inside and out. These efforts result in Nissan’s new styling direction called Timeless Japanese Futurism, which will from here define the company’s products.


The Nissan Aria is the first mass-produced all-electric crossover developed and manufactured in Japan. It is also the first production model to represent Nissan’s new electrified brand identity based on the Aria concept, which was first showcased at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show.

As part of the new design concept, distinctive patterns and symbols have been integrated into prominent locations on the vehicle to express the Aria’s Japanese heritage and influences. Most prominent of these is a stylized kumiko pattern – a traditional Japanese woodworking technique that arranges intricate, intricate geometric shapes into captivating art.

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Kumiko-inspired patterns can be found on the exterior front shield of the Aria as well as at various places inside the cabin. According to the car’s designers, the use of negative space patterns made it a perfect design enhancement for home lighting and speakers without disrupting the room-like interior atmosphere.

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“We wanted to incorporate some subtle, yet fun touches to the Aria interior through a handful of hidden designs,” said Hideki Taigo, design manager at Nissan’s Global Design Center. “The Cherry Blossom is a timeless symbol of Japan that reminds the owners of Aria’s origins.”

Sakura, also known as cherry blossom, is one of the most popular flowers in Japan and represents a new beginning. Sakura can be found embossed on the center console tray, mobile phone holder and table of the center storage. They were meticulously placed by Aria’s designers and engineers who wanted this beloved symbol of Japan’s heritage to be hidden in plain sight.

From the outset, the designers at Nissan worked to give the Aria a Japanese identity that goes beyond its sleek style and performance. Top design executives used Japanese philosophies and applied them to the all-new EV in a uniquely Nissan manner.

“We wanted to make sure the spirit of the vehicle reflects our uniquely Japanese DNA, expressed in a simple yet powerful modern way,” said Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design at Nissan. “We dubbed it ‘Timeless Japanese Futurism’ and tapped into key Japanese words to inspire our global design team to produce Aria’s ultra-sleek, seamless, sharp and powerful look.”

To maintain timeless Japanese futurism, Nissan selected a list of words that really define this new design approach:

Omotenashi (Hospitality)

Omotonashi refers to providing guests and customers with an unmatched level of hospitality, sometimes anticipating their needs and providing them accordingly. It’s a way to convey the message that this moment is just for you.

icky (smart)

The most direct translation of iki is “chic”. But for Nissan’s designers, it represents creating something new and cutting-edge that breaks away from the current imprint.

Kabuku (tilt)

Kabuku is a response to social customs and order. It embraces the strange and unconventional as an expression of rebellion, but does it in a positive way. Thinking differently from others, it represents behavior that can only come from being a leader and a risk taker.

Ma (in the middle)

At its core, the MA is the mastery of the space, employing skills and techniques without complicated tools.


If Ma is the mastery of space, then Sei is how it is achieved. It can come in the form of a design, element or a clever treatment of function.


Nissan’s design team sees this word as the essence of their inspiration, applying flowing expressions of nature to create new forms with a sense of purpose and balance.

Engawa (verandah)

Traditional Japanese buildings have a narrow corridor that runs around the exterior. This space is called an engawa and can be closed or opened to the outside like a porch. It represents a space or undefined space between inside and outside, where you are and where you are going. Nissan looks at this beyond physical, digital information and how we interact with it inside and outside the vehicle.

Andon (moving lights)

Andon is a paper lantern used to light houses, dating back to the days of samurai. The lantern has a wooden frame around which a thin piece of paper is stretched. A candle placed inside produces a warm light that elevates the surroundings.


Practiced only by the most highly trained craftsmen, kumiko is an intricate, beautiful geometric pattern that has been used for centuries.

The Nissan Aria will start at around $40,000 when it arrives sometime in early 2022. The 2022 Aria is currently scheduled for release in Japan between December and February, as its mid-summer launch was delayed due to global chip shortages.

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