Toyota Releases a Work of Art

April 7th, 2016 No Comments

The Ise Grand Shrine, which they have dedicated to the sun goddess Amaterasu, is considered to be the holiest shrine of the Shinto religion. It has an understood time span of 20 years, meaning every 20 years they completely strip the building jlkdown to its foundation and start a new making a piece for piece replica where it stood. The temple is constructed entirely from wood, and is done in the traditional wabi sabi form of joinery wherein not a single nail or piece of hardware is used. This has been done in this same manner for nearly 1,300 years. What is paramount here is not to preserve any particular physical thing, what is being preserved is the skill, the attention to detail, and above all the craft. “its secret isn’t heroic engineering or structural overkill, rather cultural continuity.” Today we forget the appeal of this, the craft as being more inherently valuable than the product itself.

In a month Toyota will be paying homage to its roots of the tradition of the greatest carpenters the world has ever known. They will do so by unveiling the Setsuna concept car, which is a roadster, not to be confused with a roadster, whose main chassis and body parts are made entirely from wood. The thinking being that the body consists of wood that can be replaced and the overall shape is reminiscent of an Italian Riva speed boat. given the deterioration of wood this is a beautiful idea that you can replace and grow individual pieces in the attempt of chasing the eternal with this wood. Setsuna means “moment” in Japanese, which is a reference to the ephemeral natural of our lives and cars. kj

Toyota used Japanese cedar for the exterior panels and Japanese birch for the frame, the floor will be elm. What is impressive about this car is going to be its adherence to tradition and their working within the tradition of Japanese joinery which is the envy of carpenters the world over and does not use any nails or hardware.  Concave and convex shapes work together like puzzle pieces to dovetail pieces into one another and make them stronger than most hardware can provide.

The metal parts are going to be made of aluminum to reduce the weight, and they will be covered with leather to create a contrast against the wooden material. In the cockpit a functional 100-year meter tempts the effects of time, this says when it is time to change the parts as well as proclaims that this car can last as long as someone has the skill to rebuild it, which is a beautiful concept. The thinking behind this car is that there will not be very many made, infact it will be very expensive and hard to maintain. What this car represents is a way for Toyota to continue to dream, for them to put the target on the future and make cars that still have a soul, because its bigger than the car industry its building in general.


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