Rich and varied Japanese traditions inspired Lexus designers in the creation of the new UX SUV, from the shape of the cabin, to the textured appearance of the dashboard trims and fine stitching of the leather upholstery.
Although the UX has compact dimensions, the aim was to ensure the interior felt open and spacious. One solution was inspired by engawa, a traditional Japanese architectural concept.
“Houses in Japan often have a veranda area which bridges the boundary between inside and outside,” Chief Designer Tetsuo Miki explained. “The Lexus UX has something similar: we’ve made a seamless connection between the cabin and the car’s exterior.”
This generates an open and airy space for passengers, while giving the driver a precise sense of the car’s extremities, making it easier to drive and manoeuvre in confined spaces. The driver’s view from the wheel is improved by the low bonnet, made possible the UX’s new GA-C platform and low-mounted drivetrain.
The stitching of the smooth leather upholstery available for the UX is inspired by sashiko, a traditional Japanese quilting technique that dates back more than 1,200 years. Its strength, with up to 10 stitches per inch, has long made it popular in the making of judo and kendo martial arts uniforms, and protective cotton coats worn by early Japanese fire fighters.
It requires a steady, skilled hand and is applied by Lexus takumi craftspeople. The quilted leather in the UX is decorated with new perforation patterns that form mathematical curves and gradations in perfect alignment.
Washi trim inlays
The new UX is the first Lexus to be offered with a dashboard trim inspired by washi, the grained paper used for the shoji sliding screens found in traditional Japanese homes. The inlays are not made of paper, but have a similar textured look, in a range of different colours.
The Lexus mission has been to deliver the finest customer service, ever since the brand was founded 30 years ago. Multiple awards testify to its success, achieved through treating customers as if they were house guests. The inspiration for this approach is omotenashi, which translates as ‘hospitality and polite service’.
Omotenashi is about more than excellence of service; it also expresses the ancient concept of being able to anticipate another person’s needs. It also influences how Lexus designs cars such as the new UX, witnessed in details such as the hands-free power tailgate and the S-Flow climate control, which constantly monitors and enhances air quality with moisturising ions.
The new Lexus UX is available to order now, with first deliveries to UK customers from March this year.