The Suzuki Katana
Front WheelEngineKatana BodylineEngine Casing
"The product must have 'Art', if it is to be successful"

target DESIGN: Director - H-G. Kasten

target DesignGSX1100 Prototype   target DESIGN
Seefelderstrasse 35
D 8036 Herrsching

Target design specialises in the design and development of transport and industrial design products from the concept to production. We are a flexible team capable of working on any project, in house or as consultants within a company. We have considerable experience working alongside marketing and engineering departments in both large and small companies. With a high standard of drawing and modelling we pride ourselves in seeing out designs through into production with few changes from the original concept drawings: An indication of the thoroughness with which the first stages of design are approached. This is an important aspect in ensuring that we maintain our reputation for meeting pre -determined costs and deadlines. Our vast knowledge of the design industry enables us to predict with astounding accuracy future trends and developments many years in advance. This ability and enthusiasm has made us leaders in the field of motorcycle design. Our clients have included many international names from the UK, to Japan, Germany and Switzerland. Our products range from Helicopters, automobiles and motorcycles to radios, helmets and small household products.

From TARGET you can expect to receive:

  • Exciting, innovative design
  • Logical technical and ergonomic layouts.
  • Cost effective use of production techniques & materials.
  • Improved continuity of corporate image.
  • A product to be proud of, that will stand the test of time.

In the Bavarian pastoral scenery target DESIGN is a name to remember. For companies like Suzuki, Hepco, Recaro, Marker, ATS, Audi, BMW, Schuberth, Tecoplan, Dornier or Beru, it is a name which already today stands for out-of-the-ordinary creative industrial and automobile design solutions. The young German team's approach is to place the human factor firmly in the centre of its styling concept by means of individualistic design. The team's success certainly goes to substantiate this company philosophy.

target DESIGN is located in the idyllic rural "Five Lakes" region of Bavaria. To the south the snow-topped peaks of the German-Austrian Alps frame the breathtaking panorama. In all directions pastureland, woods and crystal-clear lakes dominate the scene. The two most famous of the lakes, the Starnberger See and the Ammersee, are popular tourist destinations. But, despite the rural idyll, the cosmopolitan city of Munich is only 30 minutes away by car.
Hechendorf, the small village which accommodates target DESIGN, fulfils the romantic promise of the surrounding scenery. The young company is housed in the centre of well-kept grounds dotted with old trees, where the air is clean and invigorating-enough to breathe creativity into the busy day-to-day work of design that goes on here.

target studios...The target studios are housed in a single story building. You enter through a foyer which is used at the same time for presentation purposes. This foyer / presentation area is kept strictly separate from the "holy" studios and the model-making shops. Visitors are received at a round table. One wall has been turned into the company's own cinema with the aid of back lighting, and a selection of draped examples of target DESIGN products in the foyer demonstrate the versatility with which the team from Bavaria is able to fulfil its customers' requirements. One of the most striking features is a streamlined black motorbike: a target DESIGN EGLI. The hopeful young designers from Bavaria made the world sit up and look with this two-wheeled sensation at the beginning of the eighties. Even today, target DESIGN boss Hans-Georg Kasten still spends some of his weekends under the spell of this dream motor-bike on the empty, winding country roads in the early morning mist; a feeling, claims Kasten, that "never fails to excite". Hans-Georg Kasten is not only the company's boss, but also its owner. But the tall North German from Hamburg makes a point of not standing out from his staff. "We are a team, and only as a team can we be successful", is how the 42-year old sailing enthusiast describes his individual style of management.

Katten and Geiger: Kasten founded target DESIGN together with his personal friend, the talented young Jan Fellstrom and Hans Muth in 1979. Two years later, target DESIGN UK Ltd. was founded, Jan Felistrom took over management of the new company. This was the birthplace of the now famous target monocoque motor-bike and the futuristic MX1 motor-bike helmet from Krauter. After the British designer accepted a tempting offer to work in industry in 1984, Kasten went on to manage the growing company alone. Hans Muth had left as early as 1980.

The Kat could have been an MV Augusta!
MV Augusta "Motorrad" (1979)
The target DESIGN team made its first real mark with this design published within the scope of a special campaign in the German "Motorrad" motorcycle magazine. The MV Augusta was used as a base and the style theme has some common features appearing in the 'Katana'. Target first published this design as part of the works of Hans Muth, in Vol. 46 of their magazine. In addition to target DESIGN, Ital Design and Porsche Design participated in the 'Motorrad' project. It was an incredibly brilliant debut offering for target Design, unknown at the time, to compete with and win over such strong competition from such well known companies.

In the meanwhile, Hans-Georg Kasten has guided target DESIGN into completely new waters. His reputation as one if the best and most unusual motor-bike designers in the world still follows him - the Suzuki Katana, MV Augusta or target DESIGN EGLI, as well as various BMW models still in the public eye today are the reason - but Kasten and his team long ago left the field of motor-bikes behind them as main area of activity. Design from the company is in demand today in every sector where high-tech products need to be skilfully presented in an appealing and practical styling package. This applies equally to telephone systems, ski bindings, protective helmets, cars or "only" interior styling packages for cars or planes. This type of specialisation does not just come out of the blue. In retrospect, Kasten's career had been aimed at just this point. His initial training was as an automobile engineer at the Polytechnic in Hamburg, but his love of design, especially car design, kept a firm hold on him. "Something inside told me", Kasten explains, "that the things I design should move". The energetic young designer made a decision that was to shape his future. He was particularly interested in the sophisticated technology of the company Porsche. He took the bull by the horns and went to the Porsche design department in the summer of 1970. It was here, working on the development of the 928, at one time considered to be the successor to the legendary Porsche 911, that he really "got to know the ropes" as he puts it. He stayed with the project until its end in 1977, after which he changed to BMW and to a new challenge in the world of motor cycling. With the GS 80 and the concept study "BMW Module", over the next two years he delivered a thoroughbred boxer motor-bike for series production as well as a range of progressive ideas for the motorbike of the future.

It was from this time that Kasten caught the "Motorbike of the future" bug. He was actually the first to develop a concept for a monocoque bike. Today, the highly qualified technical know-how of Hans-Georg Kasten is one of the secrets of the target DESIGN team's success, and one of the major factors which differentiates the Hechendorf designers from most other freelance design services in Germany.

If Kasten is something like the technical brains behind the outfit with a highly developed vein of design skill, then Johann Geiger must be the design and styling conscience at his side. Johann Geiger, aged 31, is virtually the "second in command- at target DESIGN. He took his diploma in design at the Technical College of Art and Design in Munich. His talent for grasping technical correlations quickly and integrating them into a formal concept, in symbiosis with Hans-Georg Kasten's special skills, is a real stroke of luck for target. Between them they turn technology into a language which is understood by the user or to put it another way: target DESIGN gives objects, even those which have always been regarded as strictly utilitarian by nature, the ability to speak in a language which is not only easy to understand, but also pleasant to the listener. This is the objective which the whole team is out to achieve. Each of its members, eight in all, is given a maximum amount of personal freedom. In the discussion and actual form-finding process at target DESIGN, the proposals put forward by Hans-Georg Kasten or Johann Geiger are subject to the same level of criticism as those of the new blood fresh from design school. The team spirit works according to the motto: "What we are practicing is not a new form of communism, but only those who are strong enough to abandon conventional methods of leadership are capable of really top performance in the world of design".

The clear identity: What has emerged is a clear identity, a consistent line which began to be drawn as long as ten years ago with the team's very first achievement. In those days, target DESIGN was feeling its way towards the revolution. The name of the revolution was the Suzuki Katana (650 and 1100). This design with its dramatic basic shape rocked the foundations of the motorcycling world. The competition was not slow to respond to the model which made motorcycle history. This may be a slight exaggeration (not in my view Ed) but still it cannot be denied that target DESIGN was responsible for ringing in the changes which determined motor-cycle history over the following decade.

GSX1100S Prototype Sketch (Jan Fellstrom 1980)
An Original Design Sketch
(Jan Fellstrom 1980)
GSX1100S Clay Mockup
Clay Mock-up to Show Styling
GSX1100S Prototype
Suzuki ED-2 Katana 1100 Prototype (April 1980)
The big Katana went into production in 1981. The tank and panelling area around the handlebars emphasized the wedge shape, and with its favourable aerodynamics and centre of gravity displacement proved outstandingly stable at high speeds. After the Katana the motorcycle world's body language was changed, with the downward sliding body shape becoming dominant.

The Suzuki Katana, at any rate, succeeded absolutely in achieving the aim of unmistakable individuality. A major feature of the design was the tank, which was given a wedge shape breaking radically with tradition. At the same time, this served to ideally join man and machine. This styling concept also took in the two-coloured seat.

In the meantime, the motor-bike as a concept was developed by the target DESIGN team almost of the point of perfection. Hand in hand with various solutions of shape and styling, the team strove to improve the technical periphery; Either with new concepts for the frame or the chassis, or by sophisticated aerodynamic touches. The same applied to other projects carried out by the team in their early days. For example their highly progressive design model of a bicycle for Castrol in 1980, or a study for MV Augusta.

Another real piece de resistance was created by the target DESIGN team in 1982, at a time when it was operating with as few as three members: An exclusive single-cylinder motor-bike for EGLI on a Honda basis. The bodywork, which was dynamic without being overpowering, and impressive without being gimmicky, caused a real stir. The driver's body seemed to be fused onto the controls of the target EGLI: The seat could even be adjusted longitudinally.
But in the first years of the team's existence a certain danger arose for the small design studio in Bavaria, which had also produced new motor-bike designs to order for Ziindapp and Kreidler. "Suddenly", explains Hans-Georg Kasten, "we had become known as 'motor-bike' designers, and it looked like the name was going to stick".

It was a long and difficult process to loosen its association with a field of industry which was just experiencing the tail end of its boom period. Today, target DESIGN is a name which stands for all-round solutions to an unrestricted range of problems from automotive styling to industrial design. The team is involved in its customers' project planning at a very early stage, due largely to its substantial technical knowledge. Only in this way is it possible today to realise new technical solutions in harmony with the latest styling concepts. And only in this way is it possible for designers to include the evolution of a model into this conceptional ideal - whether it is meant for a vehicle, a set of suitcases or a car interior.

GS650G Prototype Sketch GS650G Prototype
Suzuki ED-1 Katana 650 (Oct 1979)
Production started in 1980. The Katana created a revolution in the motorcycle world when it came out. target DESIGN created a whole new design trend for Suzuki. Suzuki's sole request was "...give us a European type design...", target did the rest.

One thing is certain:
target DESIGN is a name to watch.

Its company motto is a fail-safe program on the road to success:
"Only work in the upper hemisphere of your customers' expectations".

target DESIGN Car Styling Vol. 73

Design & Programming 1995-2004 by Cube Connection Ltd