This paper describes an innovative optimization approach that offers significant improvements in performance over existing methods to solve shape optimization problems. The new approach is based on two-stages which are (1) Taguchi's robust design approach to find appropriate interval levels of design parameters (2) Immune algorithm to generate optimal solutions using refined intervals from the previous stage. A benchmark test problem is first used to illustrate the effectiveness and efficiency of the approach. Finally, it is applied to the shape design optimization of a vehicle component to illustrate how the present approach can be applied for solving shape design optimization problems. The results show that the proposed approach not only can find optimal but also can obtain both better and more robust results than the existing algorithm reported recently in the literature. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.