Is Interior Design "Where It's At" Right Now?


As one interior designer claims, "99% of time with your car is spent inside it." Let's journey into the little-known world of interior design.

When people talk of “car design,” most probably think of exteriors – the sleek form of a coupe or an angular, rugged SUV. The designers in this article, however, insist that right now it’s all about interior design.

Toyota Times spoke with three individuals who have a burning passion for interior design and are not afraid to share it. Let’s peel back the curtain on the little-known world of interior design.

Trying not to chip those nice nails

“In a car interior, changing things by a mere millimeter can throw everything off. It’s a delicate, complex world,” says Hiromi Yagi, Assistant Manager at the Lexus Design Division. He also worked in exterior design before shifting to interiors.

Surely the “mere millimeter” remark is a slight exaggeration? When Toyota Times put the question to Yagi, he promptly attached a fake fingernail kept at the office, demonstrating how such changes might affect the operation of an in-car dial.


Of course, we use fake nails to make sure controls are easy to operate, but more importantly, we put ourselves in the shoes of the woman who cares about her nails.

When you look at it from the perspective of not wanting to damage those nice nails, you understand what angle a dial needs to be, which doesn’t come across in size simulations alone.

Nearby, another designer walks out with a weighted brace on his knee.


These braces add weight or immobilize the joints, allowing us to make sure that even the elderly and physically challenged can get in and out of the car smoothly.

We also have special glasses to check if the red hazard switches are easily visible for those who have difficulty seeing red hues. We consider all kinds of user needs, seeking to balance stylish looks with usability for many different customers.

“99% of time with your car is spent inside it.”

“Interiors have progressed remarkably over the past five years.”

Throughout the interview, Yagi’s words continue to reveal his dedication to interiors and the pursuit of millimeter-perfect precision.

By embracing global diversity and considering the needs of many different people, they also embody the “human-centered” approach to car-making at Toyota and Lexus.

Why “simple is best” for the Lexus RZ interior

More than anything, Yagi exudes joy when talking about the depth of interior design. He shared some interesting comments about developing the RZ, Lexus' first BEV-only model.

“For the RZ interior, we decided simple is best,” he says.

Since BEVs are not equipped with an engine, the interior has more room from front to back.

Conventional interior design treats the driver-side instrument panel as the main feature. For the new RZ, however, Yagi aimed for “a new spatial configuration focusing on the doors.”

From the sketch stage, Yagi looked to “accentuate the elongated interior space.” The resulting interior is open and uncluttered. At the same time, meticulously crafted elements such as the steering wheel and gauges offer a sense of detailed, refined monozukuri (manufacturing).

To create an interior design is to create a living space. It is also a quest for human comfort. The shift from cars to mobility expands these possibilities still further.

Here's a question for our car-loving readers: what part of the interior has undergone a remarkable evolution these past few years?

Find the answer on the next page.