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.

According to Yagi, the part undergoing a remarkable evolution is the seats.

Alongside comfort features such as climate-controlled ventilation and freely positioned electric reclining, seats also incorporate safety features to protect passengers in the event of a collision.

That is why they will continue to evolve. Toyota Times spoke with designers using cutting-edge tools to push the potential of seating.

What’s with the animal bone look?

The story behind this bone-like structure was explained by Project Manager Shinsuke Omori of the Vision Design Division’s Interior Design Department.


This is a car seat frame made using a design method known as generative design, which has attracted much attention in recent years. We input aspects such as the size of the space, the weight of the seated person, and forces during impact into the software, then 3D-print the generated design.

This novel configuration could not have come about through conventional methods. By taking full advantage of the latest tools, designers have opened up possibilities for creating entirely new seat designs.

Another interesting outcome is that results optimized by the most advanced digital tools come to resemble the skeletons of animals that have inhabited the earth since time immemorial.

“Depending on the tools you use, different ideas emerge,” adds Omori.

A core principle of the Toyota Production System is “continuous improvement,” and the company’s designers strive for ever-better designs by constantly adopting the latest tools.

Design “bible” brings blessings

Also at the Vision Design Division’s Interior Design Department is General Manager Shunsuke Tanaka, who worked on the interior for the latest Crown. In fact, with that model he undertook a new challenge in the design process.

The object in question is pictured below. But where exactly does it fit in a car interior?

The answer is that it doesn’t – this is not something that made it into the finished Crown.


Interior designers faced a major source of frustration. Even if we brought clay models along to our interior review sessions, they could not convey the textures of objects.

We often receive feedback for corrections because ideas are not properly communicated. To prevent this, we created a design “bible,” as it were, a physical object where people can check the actual colors and textures. We selected various elements of the interior detailing and arranged them into a single form.

A “bible” that serves as a physical reference. By tangibly demonstrating the designers’ vision, this sacred object facilitates dialogue with the sales team and other departments involved in the project, enabling agile development.

Another tool used by the designers is virtual reality headsets, which allow them to see what a car interior would look like from the driver’s seat. This technology makes it possible to explore the design in great detail from an early stage.

The screen on the right shows the headset wearer’s view. They can even check the rear seats by looking around.

Advances in digital technology eliminate inefficiencies during development. This is a good example of how they can also make work easier for designers.

See? Isn’t interior design fascinating?

Finally, having devoted his career to interior design, Omori spoke about why the field appeals to him.


While exterior design is mostly about exploring form, interiors are interesting because you can be involved in every aspect of design.

You can design parts such as the instrument panel and steering wheel, down to the materials they’re made from. Or, by playing around with things like switch usability, the clarity of driving information, and the layout of people and objects, you can create comfortable interior spaces like nothing that has come before.

Exterior or interior? If you were to become a car designer, which would it be? The next time a new model is unveiled, be sure to keep an eye on how the interiors continue to evolve!