Lexus has taken the exceptional skills of its master craftsmen to new heights in perfecting the reimagined spindle grille of the new flagship LS sedan.
The delicate pattern of the evolved, iconic grille is so complex that it required an unusually high level of human skill in both the design and fabrication stages.
Exceptional Lexus artisans applied the human touch to more than 5,000 individual surfaces, bringing the new spindle grille design to life by transforming machined output into a work of art.
The task was even more demanding for the LS F Sport variant with its performance spirit being reflected in an even more dynamic expression that required edits to more than 7,000 facets.
Constant artisan involvement – from computer screen to the finished product – demonstrated that, in a world of advanced technology and virtual design, Lexus still considers the skills of the human hand and eye to be crucial.
Even the mould used to produce the finished grille was fashioned to beyond machine-measurable tolerances, thanks to the work of a takumi and his custom-made set of finishing and polishing tools.
“Takumi” describes a craftsperson with the highest levels of technical skill and precise application, honed over decades of experience in their field of expertise.
The new spindle grille design features an intricate span of interlocking Lexus “L” motifs, a web-like tapestry inspired by the fine delicate patterns of those found in nature.
Designers at Lexus challenged themselves to express the new incredibly complex grille as a single, integrated piece – unlike previous grilles that required separate upper and lower sections.
After computer modelling rendered the grille pattern with great accuracy, the precise design was completed by a skilled design modeller.
In an unprecedented display of dedication to detail, the modeller worked on-screen full-time for six months to adjust the thousands of individual curved surfaces.
The intricate human-manipulated pattern was then passed to a metal mould takumi craftsman, Yasuhiro Nakashima, who has spent 27 years learning and honing his craft – filing, shaping and polishing metal moulds to extremely exact levels.
The takumi have a natural competitiveness and a passion to be the best at what they do, reflected in Nakashima’s customised tools, including hand-made bamboo instruments to shape the finer details.
The uncommonly large single grille required the finished mould to be structurally sound while also accurately reflecting the finely detailed design.
Machines and processes used to create the mould are among the very best available anywhere, but achieving a finish with absolute accuracy required remarkable human skills.
Using his customised toolset and experienced eye, Nakashima refined surface smoothness to within 100 microns (0.1 millimetre) – a difference even the finest robotic milling technology cannot detect.
He also anticipated details that technology cannot, polishing by hand the minute individual surfaces in directions that improved the reflective aesthetic of the grille’s final coating.