Toyota’s Vibrant Clarity Design Philosophy Explained
Toyota’s “Vibrant Clarity” design philosophy debuted at the 2003 Frankfurt Motor Show on the CS&S Concept. It was meant to combine emotion (that’s the “vibrant” part of the name) and rationality (“clarity”), using simple yet stylish design that was simultaneously bold and inventive.
If that sounds like a whole bunch of market speak, that’s probably because it is. This 2006 quote from Wahei Hirai, Toyota’s global design managing officer, put it best: “Vibrant Clarity is the key to answering a long-standing paradox: How to produce vehicles that are energized and dynamic, yet at the same time rational and ingenious.”
Vibrant Clarity Is Evolving
Toyota’s idea was to create vehicles that looked simultaneously simple and useful but also engaging. In truth, the most commonly criticized aspect of Toyota cars around that time was almost always their relative blandness. There are definitely worse things a car can be, but it did go against the “vibrant” portion of the automaker’s design philosophy.
However, we learned in 2013 that this may have been intentional, when Toyota design chief Tokuo Fukuichi said the following in a presentation: “Before, we made cars so as not to be disliked by anyone. In the future, out of 100 customers, we want to excite 10 of them instead of not offending all 100.”
This is a strong hint at an evolution in design that we have already seen Toyota begin to embrace in the years since. It takes just one glance at the new Corolla or Prius to see that they’re doing something different and exciting. The lines are sharper, the haunches more raised, the headlights more tailored, and the overall front end more aggressive. Even behind the wheel, the new Toyotas feel more engaging than ever before, yet they haven’t lost any of their simplicity and intuitiveness.
Toyota has always nailed the “clarity” portion of its design philosophy, the part that embraces simple, transparent design and ingenuity. Finally, it looks as though it’s catching up on the “vibrant” side of things as well.