Aiming for beautiful, crease-free curves
Sudo explains how the team remained committed to authenticity right from the design stage.
In those old photos, you can see that the seat cover had a single top panel with no seams. To get a beautiful crease-free look with that type of seat, you need to create the optimum shape.
It’s crucial that the concave and convex surfaces on the seatback match up. If they are not the same, when you stitch them to the sides the length will be off, causing creasing around the shoulders.
Along with appearance, ride comfort is also important. Taking such aspects into account, we were also meticulous about the feel of the upholstery in designing the seat pattern.
Given the simplicity of the design, even the slightest issue with the stitching detail would stand out. The team was therefore dedicated to pursuing a beautiful finish in the crafting process. In addition to changing the stitch spacing from the standard 5mm to 3mm, they left a 3mm seam allowance, positioned uniformly along the seat sides to achieve smooth, elegant edge lines.
Such skills and expertise are used in designing and fabricating seats for Lexus and other luxury vehicles. The fact that this seat was a one-off allowed the team to take special care in every aspect. One interesting facet was the use of the latest technologies and craftsmanship to revive the racing car that marked Toyota’s starting point in motorsport. This project proved a great motivation for the junior members from Toyota Boshoku.
Yamaguchi, who was involved in building the seat’s wooden frame, spoke about his experience.
From that first visit to the museum, we had the chance to see many things, and I gained a lot of interesting knowledge and experience in the materials and construction of old seats. Discussing all of this with the team and people from various departments also made me rediscover how interesting this job is, and its possibilities.
Even as the leader of this project, I was able to gain new knowledge, insight, and outside-the-box perspectives through our various discussions. I enjoyed that more than anything, and it provided great motivation for my work moving forward.
For Toyota Boshoku, the main goal of this project was fostering young talent. In this regard too, the results seem to have surpassed expectations.
The seat’s specs were finalized in June 2021. Completing the seat itself would take a further two months until early September, roughly half a year after the Toyota Boshoku team first came together.
Through his seat-making and packaging work, Watanabe says he experienced the “genba power” that arises when many people engage in a single task together. Bringing together wide-ranging skills, crafts, and expertise produces outstanding results that go beyond expectations.
I’m truly pleased with how the seat turned out. I was not expecting anything as wonderful as this.
This restoration project showed that if everyone has the same mindset, and each of us is committed to our work, we can achieve results that exceed expectations.
Experiencing this firsthand made me realize how important it is. For me, that was the biggest takeaway from this project.
The next article in this series showcases the travails of members who cast the transmission case and the clutch and brake pedals.
(Text: Yasuhito Shibuya)