FbD-Concept by Kazunori Inomata, Japan/UK

2008: Smaller. Safer. Better.

Drawings on Display at Michelin Challenge Design™


Kazunori Inomata was born in Tokyo, Japan, and is currently based in Oxford, UK, working as an automotive designer for European projects. He is also active in the area of collaborative landscape design. His designs reflect a theme: a respect for, and willingness to learn, from nature.

His first MA in Architecture was from the University of Nihon & the University of Tokyo in 1998, his second MA was in Automotive Design from Coventry University, UK, in 2007. Before his studies at Coventry University, he had six years of experience both as an architect and a civil engineer; three of which were spent designing public buildings and writing software for specific projects in collaboration with Japanese architects, and the last three years as a civil engineering consultant developing a virtual reality road design simulator.

Kazunori’s automotive design experience also includes many honors and achievements received in design competitions around the world. Besides his selection as a 2008 Michelin Challenge Design finalist, he was nominated for three categories and was the winner of two in the Interior Motives Award 2007 as a group entry, and also an individual finalist in 2006. Other achievements include: Corus Design Award Competition (2nd prize, 2006).


FbD-Concept (Flexible-body Dynamics): is a small electric vehicle with scratch-resistant body surfaces.

This project started from a single question; “Why doesn’t a vehicle body surface have a self-recovering function?” The direction of future vehicles should strive to mimic living things, which have sophisticated re-generation features.

This FbD-Concept is one solution – a city vehicle that can reduce driver anxiety, through the application of shape, mechanism, and materials that reduce the number and the level of accidents.

FbD-Concept is a rear-steering vehicle, which has a 2+1 seat layout and presents a new pleasurable driving sensation and a new urban motorized society. Because it has rear-wheel steering and three individual in-wheel motors, the result is a 2-metre turning circle, so that even less confident drivers can achieve perfect parking. Furthermore, with wireless controls there is no dashboard, which allows easy front ingress and egress. Using a teardrop shape with its elevated door opening, new parking layouts can reduce parking spaces and reduce city traffic congestion.

This vehicle has scratch-resistant body surfaces that look like reptiles’ scales. Small outer panels are located in areas of the car more likely to be subjected to impacts of varying contact area. Each panel has a similar structure to a kneecap, with a flexible attachment connected to the bottom of the panel, each allowing an individual bending movement. Gaps between the panels ensure a minor movement does not affect the next panel. This leads to reduced driver anxiety, as owners only have to replace the affected damaged panel. An additional benefit is improved pedestrian safety; each panel can absorb impact force and reduce the severity of an accident.