May. 30, 2017
Feature: Interview with Sumie Teraoka, Designer of the 2017 Camatte
Camatte (verb)―to love and care for others, and caring for cars
That is the term which Toyota's series of concept vehicles has been derived from, Sumie Teraoka excitedly describes to us. Without missing a beat, she introduces to us her latest creation―this year's model named the Camatte Petta. Children are given a choice of 5 large magnet designs to stick (described as "petta" in Japanese) on the hood and trunk of the car. After deciding on the design, the child is able to drive in the vehicle in the mini driving school "Camatte School" which will be set up at the Toyota booth during this year's International Tokyo Toy Show in Japan.
When asked why Toyota prioritizes the child's decision, and comes out with a new Camatte design and activity annually, the designer of the 2017 Camatte states that the agency of the child is the top priority, to give them the voice to be able to express themselves, which mirrors adult actions. This also explains the rationale for establishing the Camatte School drive course, where like grown-ups, children can learn basic driving techniques, and obtain a provisional driving license which Toyota has created. Another aim that Toyota has through the Camatte concept car is to provide a space where children and their parents are able to communicate through the decision-making design process, as well as to talk about their hands-on experience when driving the Camatte Petta.
Teraoka believes that through these activities, the child's confidence will be boosted, and their interest will be engaged when they are able to interact on decisions that conventionally are limited to adults. In addition, Toyota believes that the emotive expression and intention of the Camatte project is of utmost importance. The company hopes that by using the car as a symbol where children are able to make happy associations with, they will hopefully grow up to be next-generation fans of cars.
Teraoka also lets us in on a trivia that may go unnoticed, as she leans forward earnestly with her face splitting into a gummy grin when asked for a "Camatte Petta secret". She begins, "just like twins or siblings are not hundred percent identical, this year's two Camatte concepts are also unique in their own ways if you observe closely enough". The two Camatte Petta models are intricately handcrafted, and each and every curve is difficult to even replicate. Furthermore, like a puzzle, the hood can be easily removed and fitted with past Camatte designs if one wishes to.
With years of experience in Toyota as an engineer, including having worked on the interior of the Lexus RX, Teraoka is now based in the New Concept Planning Department of Toyota's Mid-size Product Planning Division. While she usually works on the planning of future vehicle lineups, the jaunty engineer has been the designer of the Camatte since 2015. Her passion for igniting smiles on young children's faces is reflected in her enthusiasm when recalling her experience so far in the planning and designing stages of the new Camatte.