JAN 19, 2018
The high-quality details in the new Lexus LS are a timely reminder of the brand’s ongoing commitment to craftsmanship. We take a closer look
It’s all in the details. The exterior design of the new Lexus flagship, the LS luxury sedan, impressed the automotive world when it was introduced at the 2017 North American International Auto Show, but some might say that its true beauty lies beneath the surface. Look closely inside the car’s cabin for a never-before-seen level of takumi craftsmanship.
One of those challenges was incorporating design elements inspired by origami into the LS’ cabin. Origami is the traditional Japanese art of paper folding, which Suga was determined to showcase in the LS. Suga conveyed his vision to a color designer, who worked with a skilled fabric artisan from Kyoto and, together, they developed Hand Pleats, a special fabric pleat with a three-dimensional pattern that’s both pleasing to the eye and touch. Because each piece of fabric is expertly folded by the artisan’s hand into perfect geometric shapes, this feature will be available only in select markets.
“The pattern in this fabric has the ability to change its expression, depending on whether it is struck by daytime sunlight or illuminated by interior lighting at night,” says Suga. “The result is a comfortable space that envelops the driver and passengers in elegance.”
Another truly unique element inside the new LS is found on the door. Glass has rarely been used as an interior door-trim piece, but like the origami-inspired pleated fabric, a special kiriko-cut glass piece gives the LS instant distinctiveness and a level of artistry never before seen in an automobile. Through repeated trial and error, craftsmen created a high-quality piece of glass that appears beautiful and delicate but is in fact incredibly strong, thanks to advanced glass-reinforcement technology.
“This special ornamentation piece boasts the best of both worlds in terms of an industrial product that is also a work of art,” says Suga. “The look and feel of this glass trim piece, like the hand-pleated fabric, transforms depending on the viewing angle and time of day.”
Suga also wanted to take full advantage of Japan’s sophisticated sliced-veneer manufacturing technologies and Lexus’ exceptional Laser Cut techniques. Real wood is used in the LS’ cabin, but it has been expertly veneered by takumi masters to give a pattern that’s unique to Lexus. In comparison to the straight-grain look of the shimamoku ornamentation, the new cross-grain look of the LS’ woodwork features a “larger” pattern with bolder contrasts between light and dark. Laser Cut technology takes the mesh pattern of the front grille and reconfigures its flow to expand outward to complement the ornamentation panel of the interior. The finished look combines real wood and metal elements in a sophisticated, elaborately detailed way that conveys a truly unique effect.
The Hand Pleats and kiriko glass were first on display at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show in March and the LS continues to tour the world. But more than just the car is being shown. This vehicle, as with other Lexus models in the current line-up, showcases the brand’s commitment to high-quality craftsmanship. Take for example the rear seats in the new LS, which provides the grandest level of comfort and convenience for those who sit in the back. Highlighting what the company calls omotenashi (the Japanese way of hospitality), the rear seats offer 22-way power adjustments and relaxation massage with warming function.
Air bladders integrated into the seatback and inflated seat cushions apply pressure to the passenger’s back and lower hip to facilitate physical and emotional relaxation. Lexus sought the counsel of professional masseurs trained in the Japanese art of shiatsu to determine how pressure should be applied and in what order.
“Our goal was to create a diverse but carefully-selected cycle, where during any one of our seven 15-minute programs, the passenger enjoys a truly relaxing experience. We invite you to experience the distinctively Japanese level of detail and care that has gone into this feature,” explains a Lexus engineer.
This level of detail and hospitality is experienced the very moment someone steps inside the vehicle. Inspired by the traditional Japanese paper lanterns, Lexus aimed to recreate a similar relaxing ambience throughout the new LS. Carefully crafted using all-LED technology, the new signature illumination creates an atmosphere of exceptional true omotenashi, welcoming drivers and passenger to an exceptional level of comfort.