Lexus has drawn on Japanese arts and crafts to design and construct the moulded glass panels in the new flagship LS sedan.

DUE IN AUSTRALIA in April this year, the Lexus LS will be available with, not just, hand-pleated silk surfacing but also moulded glass panels. The use of glass to form a decorative surface in a car is a world-first – it features on the door panels.

Lexus said the decision to use glass, was “Inspired by fine Japanese kiriko glass, the panels strike a rich visual and tactile contrast with the stitched leather upholstery, cool metal door handles and hand-pleated silk surfacing”.

Lexus has drawn on Japanese arts and crafts to design and construct the moulded glass panels in the new flagship LS sedan.

Apparently, the inspiration for the design of the panels is kiriko, the Japanese tradition of hand-cutting “delicate patterns into glass, producing stunning reflections of light. It is often seen in vases, sake glasses and traditional ornaments”.

Lexus LS chief designer Koichi Suga said the look and feel of the glass changes according to the angle of viewing and the time of day.
“This special ornamentation represents the best of both worlds – it is an industrial product that is also a work of art,” he said.

The idea behind the panels began in 2014 when Lexus went to the Asahi Glass Company (AGC) to determine how glass might be used inside Lexus vehicles. AGC turned to Takumi craftsman Toshiyasu Nakamura to “recreate the reflective effect of kiriko glass for the LS. This provided a unique challenge because, unlike a kiriko sake glass, there is no light passing through the glass inside the LS door”.
Nakamura described his solution: “Cutting at altering angles through the hand-drawn lines on the glass results in a ‘twist’, allowing more light to reflect at different angles along those lines.”

But crafting a prototype was one thing, Lexus and AGC had to work out how the panels would be mass produced. After a 3D-scan of the prototype was taken an eight-stage process was developed which involved everything from film-dipping to mounting a metal plate to the back of the glass for strength; and all completed at eight different locations in Japan.

So, the next time you look at a piece of trim in a car, pause for a moment and think about the number of meetings, designs and construction of that one element. That said, sure it might look cool, but is this indulgence for the sake of indulgence?


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