Yamaha V-Max Designer Kenji Ekuan Passes Away

We’re still reeling from the loss of Melbourne “Mike” J. Wilson last week, but now, I have the burden of telling you guys that another icon of the motorcycle world has left this world. Kenji Ekuan, the 85-year old Japanese industrial designer that is considered as one of the most influential designers in Japan, has died.

Ekuan is mostly known for his design of the now iconic Kikkoman soy sauce bottle, but all of us in the motorcycle industry know him as the brains behind the design of Yamaha motorcycles, including the V-Max that is actually celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

That’s right, without Ekuan, the V-Max might have never come to our lives, a fact that’s a lot more meaningful now after Yamaha Motor Europe announced the V-Max Carbon, a carbon fibre-clad version of the V-Max that Yamaha will release later this year to commemorate the model’s 30th anniversary.

Ekuan’s contributions to Japan is more than just him designing bikes for Yamaha. He was also the man behind GK Industrial Design, a company that was at the design forefront of Japan’s own rise from the ashes after the damages inflicted to the country during World War II.

The man was considered a design legend, not just in Japan, but throughout the world. In fact, his contributions netted him a Compasso d’Oro (Golden Compass) award, a prestigious Italian design award given by the Associazione per il Disegno Industriale (ADI).

Our condolences to the family and friends of Kenji Ekuan. Rest in peace, sir.

Click past the jump to read more about Kenji Ekuan’s passing.

Why it matters

A lot of people here in America may not be familiar with Kenji Ekuan, but those who know the history of Yamaha are pretty familiar with his contributions to the company and the world of motorcycles in general.

Like I said, without Ekuan, who knows what kind of state Yamaha would be in right now. That’s not to say that the Japanese manufacturer wouldn’t be with us today anymore, but Ekuan surely played a pivotal role in what Yamaha looks like today. Case in point: the V-Max line that Ekuan famously designed is arguably one of the company’s most popular models and is even one of its longest-tenured.

Being around for 30 years gets you that kind of acclaim and Yamaha’s decision to build a special edition V-Max to commemorate the line’s 30th anniversary goes to show how important the V-Max is to Yamaha.

None of that would have been possible without the brilliant design mind of Kenji Ekuan. His death is a huge loss to us all. That much I’m pretty sure of.

Source: NY Times

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