Toyota Motor Corp's Lexus brand unveiled a full-sized cardboard version of their new IS saloon in London on Monday (October 5). The intricate design was created to celebrate the skills of Lexus's ‘takumi’ craftsmen and women who work on the productions lines in Japan.
The so-called 'Origami Car' has a cardboard frame crafted from 1,700 recyclable laser-cut cardboard sheets. It's powered by an electric motor, meaning it can actually be driven, albeit never in a practical - or legal - scenario.
Despite the unconventional building material, Toyota's Scott Brownlee said the styling mimicked the shape and curves of the real version.
"Styling on cars is all about surfacing and angles, and how things change as you move around them; how does a car's shape evolve from the front to the side to the back. And what was interesting was when they were making this is that you can pick up some of that. So even though it’s in a completely different material, in fact at some angles you can see through it because of the corrugation, you still get that sense of surfaces moving between each other," Scott told Reuters.
The Origami Car celebrates the design and engineering skill of the Lexus production lines in Japan where the workers hone their dexterity skills by learning how to fold paper into a origami paper cat, using only their non-dominant hand.
Professional origami designer Mark Bolitho said: "This car is inspired, the inspiration was the engineers can make a paper cat and they can take it further using the same materials, the same underlying inspiration which is a folded paper object and come up with what you see today."
Built by London-based specialist companies, the Origami Car presented unique challenges for those involved.
Ruben Marcos, founder of company Scales and Models, said: "The hinges and the weights and whole structural issue, that was really I think one of the hardest parts."
It took five people three months and 2,500 hours to turn the computer aided design (CAD) into the full-size corrugated cardboard replica.
While cardboard cars may not be the future of motoring, the designers enjoyed being involved in a project that had a link with the past.
"What makes it a sculptural piece rather than an engineering piece because we have to make adaptations like that and it's not perfect in a CAD sense, it's got a human touch in it. And I think that's what Lexus liked about it as well; it's a link back to their origami," said Daniel Ryan, from company Laser Cut Works.
The unique vehicle will be on display to the public at the Grand Designs exhibition in Birmingham from October 8.