Kawasaki MK9


_The MK9 (Machineart Kawasaki 900) won an Industrial Designers Society of America IDEA Gold Award in its 1997 IDEA competition for excellence in design. Edging out submissions by Ford and GM in the Concept Vehicle Category, the MK9 design is a bold statement that demonstrates how design can transform a common looking production Kawasaki into a vehicle that can elicit emotional and desire. In this sport GT product category, desire is the key to increased sales.

The project is now 15 years old, yet the MK9 still looks modern despite considerable technological advances that have taken place since. We defined “flow” as the central visual quality to express, along with laying bare the chapes, colors and textures of the mechanical components.  In the side view a curved line starts at the front wheel and thrusts backwards through the tail as if it were drawn by  the spin turbulence generated by the front wheel. When you place your eye on on point it is drawn around the forms without interruption. That is visual “flow”.

The glossy flowing body contrasts with the cast aluminum engine cases sand blasted to a rough natural color. This contrast in surfaces and shapes can be thought of as male and female. That combination of attributes is the essence of  “sexy” as it is used to describe vehicles.

The MK9 was designed prior to widespread use of 3D CAD tools and was sculpted by hand in clay. Molds were made in plaster from impressions in the clay and parts were made in hand laid fiberglass.  We built the oval section exhaust collector in stainless steel as well as instrument nacelles and mirror stanchions.

Rear view mirrors double as turn signals and are located low on the body. In that position the view to the rear is uninterrupted by the rider’s arms taking advantage of the space between the arms and waist. Headlamps are halogen projection beams, only seen on certain luxury cars at the time of the MK9’s design in the mid 90’s.

Only one MK9 was built and it sits on display in the Machineart studio. The project established our credibility in the Powersports product segment and was a precursor to the MachineartMoto line of motorcycle products we produce today.

Photography & video by: Mark Jenkinson markjenkinsonphoto.com