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Toyota made a fittingly stylish debut appearance at Milan Design week, showcasing the Setsuna, a concept car made primarily out of wood.
The decision to use wood, a material that is durable yet prone to change over time, reflects Toyota’s efforts to give form to the developing relationships between people and their cars.
The Setsuna symbolises how cars evolve gradually over the years, as if absorbing the aspirations, memories and emotions of multiple generations of families.
Setsuna means ‘moment’ in Japanese, and was chosen to reflect people’s experiences of precious, fleeting moments together with their cars. Toyota believes that, over time, these collective moments make their cars irreplaceable to their owners.
To embody this concept, Toyota chose a variety of distinctive types of wood for different parts of the car, including the exterior panels (developed jointly with Sumitomo Forestry), frame, floor and seats. Wood provides uniquely appealing characteristics that are not offered in conventional cars. It can last for many generations if properly taken care of and it also changes in colouration and texture in response to its environment (particularly temperature and humidity) and conditions of use, taking on a unique character and depth.
Kenji Tsuji, the Toyota engineer overseeing the development of the Setsuna, says, "We evaluated various ways of expressing the concept and selected different lumber materials for specific applications, such as Japanese cedar for the exterior panels and Japanese birch for the frame. We also paid particular attention to the sizes and arrangements of individual parts. For the assembly structure we adopted a traditional Japanese joinery technique called okuriari [a joinery method used when making beams and lintels] using no nails or screws.
The completed body line of the Setsuna expresses a beautiful curve reminiscent of a boat. We would also like the viewer to imagine how the Setsuna will gradually develop a complex and unique character over the years. The car includes a 100- year meter that will keep time over generations, and seats that combine functional beauty with the gentle hue of the wood."
Milan Design Week is the world’s largest design exhibition, held in Milan, Italy. Furniture manufacturers and fashion brands hold various events to highlight the uniqueness of their products. It is also called Salone del Mobile, Milano.
Source: Believe Magazine - Issue 13 2016