Morning of September 16, 2020.
We, the staff of Negroni, were watching the live broadcast on the monitor screen. The first thing that jumped out at us from the images presented on the screen was the strikingly bright yellow color. The headlight design is characterized by a balance of curves and straight lines, and the square front grille is wide open. And inside the interior, we can see a shift knob that clearly looks like a manual transmission.
The Nissan Fairlady Z prototype was unveiled simultaneously around the world.
The overall proportions of the car look futuristic at first glance, but it seemed to have a unique style with heritage design everywhere in the details. And the car has a mysterious atmosphere, not unlike any "modern" car.
As the presentation by CEO Uchida and the vehicle designers proceeded against the backdrop of the still excited audience, our minds were racing, desperately trying to remember if "this vivid yellow" was indeed in the Negroni material archives. We were trying hard to remember if "this vivid yellow" was in Negroni's material archives.
The day before the launch. The day before the presentation, Mr. Miyabe, Director of Negroni, received a phone call from Mr. Hiroshi Tamura, General Manager of the NISSAN Z. Mr. Tamura was on his way to a rehearsal for the presentation.
Mr. Tamura has been a private user of Negroni products for almost 10 years. We have created the "Idea Corsa" to fit his foot shape and to fit his everyday style. We have created a silver color, reminiscent of a metal body, or a special heather gray color to match his jacket style, or a fresh summer look with a T-shirt. And white for a fresh summer style, such as a T-shirt. Usually, we don't have so many of them.Mr. Tamura usually prefers gradations of non-dark, achromatic colors, but his request that day was a little different from the usual.
What I want this time is something that is hard to describe in words.I want to ask for a color that is difficult to express in words.
So anyway, first of all, please watch the video tomorrow."
I quickly realized that this was not a story in need of his usual, everyday coloring. At the same time, I felt a powerful energy in every word, an omen that something big was about to happen.
What Mr. Tamura needed was a special Idea Corsa with an exquisite yellow color that changes its expression depending on how the light hits it. However, it is neither wild yellow nor lemon yellow, nor is it slightly different. It was clear that the yellow was not in the category of the color chart we usually see.
The presentation by board members Alfonso and Tamura began. At their feet was the familiar heather gray Idea Corsa. As the conversation progressed from vehicle details to development secrets, a sense of urgency gradually began to build within our design team. The yellow of the new Z behind them was indeed "a color that is difficult to describe.
Have you ever seen a yellow like this?"
I think I've seen it somewhere, but I've definitely never used it."
'Is this a thin solid yellow?'
No, it looked a little like lime green in the first video.
Does the lighting change the color?
Is it possible to achieve this kind of color expression with leather in the first place?"
The discussion about color heated up, ignoring the presentation,
How about this? One of the veteran design staff pulled out a small roll of leather about 30 ds (1 ds is 10 cm square) from the back of a drawer. The color was familiar but unfamiliar. It has a matte texture like rubber touch. The yellow color is indeed lightly reminiscent of the body color of the Z in the video.
Still, how did such leather conveniently find its way into the factory drawer? Digging through my hazy memory, I remembered an incident at a leather fair in Tokyo around 2018.
The person who "gave" me the leather was Elena, a longtime coordinator at Tannery C. Technology in Biella. We first met her at the Premiere Vision international materials fair in Paris, and since then she has been a wonderful woman who has provided us with great ideas for our creativity every time we have met, including at Linea Pelle in Milan and at the Tokyo Leather Fair. The last time we met in Tokyo, we had dinner together, but I had heard that the world had changed dramatically due to the 2020 pandemic and that she had unfortunately left her position after the massive lockdown in Italy. The last time I spoke with this Elena was when we parted ways in Tokyo.
She said, "Well, if you want, do you want to take this with you?"
She handed me a leather sample of a slightly larger size that she had cut out roughly with a cutter. (Usually, it is a cut sample of a slice size.)
Vivid matte yellow leather, which had not been discussed at all in the meeting that day. I felt a little strange about her sudden offer, but I accepted it gratefully without thinking at the time.
Believe it or not, the yellow leather I had received at that time had been sitting in a drawer for two years, completely untouched.
The pattern is attached to the leather. I kept track of how it fit together like a puzzle.
We fearfully matched that slightly larger yellow leather sample to the Idea Corsa pattern. Its size is breathtakingly just barely one foot too small. Of course, there was absolutely no room for error. In such a tightrope situation, I wondered if I could submit an unfamiliar material as a shoe to be used for the promotion of the important Z. In the first place, I had only seen a brief glimpse of the color in the video. We had only seen a brief glimpse of the coloring in the video, and we had no idea how well the color would match the actual Z. Anyway, we decided to make an impromptu color scheme. Anyway, we decided to make an impromptu color swatch and send it to Mr. Tamura.
Miyabe Mr. Tamura, I have tried many times to match the color on my monitor, but honestly only one color seems to match the yellow of the new Z proto. And with this leather, we are limited to making one pair for now. To be honest, it may not be reproducible, but if this color is acceptable, we will go into production. I've sent you a sample so you can check the color."
Whenever I exchange words with Mr. Tamura, I am struck by his sharpness in design and manufacturing, and the depth of his overwhelming imagination about materials. His every word conveys the boldness of a person in charge of the development of numerous vehicles that are the symbols of motorsports. And because Mr. Tamura is constantly under unimaginable pressure, you can sense the power of his "master's spirit. Negroni has always faced his driving shoes with a unique sense of tension. So, of course, he knew that if the leather swatch did not have the color and texture he envisioned, this proposal would not work at all.
Leather swatch sent to Mr. Tamura on September 17.
The image illustration enclosed with the swatch. Silver and white illustrations were also proposed.
Photography: Nissan Motor Co.
Text: Shuhei Miyabe / NEGRONI