A one-class-above interior design
achieved through unwavering commitment
This series gives a behind-the-scenes look at the development of the all-new CX-5 and introduces designers and engineers who played a key role in the process. In this fourth installment, two interior designers discuss the process of redesigning the model’s interior, along with design sketches and photos of trial interior parts.
It all began with a single sketch
Based on the “Refined Toughness” concept of combining sophistication and the powerful presence of an SUV, every member of the design team was aware from the outset of the desire to create a comfortable interior environment with a harmony between relaxation and tension. Achieving this began not by selecting various elements from a number of suggestions and narrowing them down to the final design, as was the case with previous projects, but with a single design. Below is the sketch that began the process.
An interior sketch from the early stages of development
The aim was to create a simple yet refined, comfortable environment that conveys a sense of exhilaration. And while the design team’s efforts were focused by the seminal sketch, the road toward completion of the final product did present some bumps along the way.
“The product embodies the ideal expressed in the sketch. Everything we did was an effort to realize that goal,” said Tatsunori Iwahara, an interior designer.
Tatsunori Iwahara, interior designer
The team aimed to refine each detail of the interior from the perspective of the environment as a whole.
For example, positioning the air-conditioning louvers slightly higher or lower would disrupt the horizontal alignment and weaken the confluence of the louvers and the adjacent decorative panel and door trim. To express the pleasing sense of breadth in the sketch, the relationship between every part was scrutinized in millimeter increments.
Iwahara and the rest of the team attached parts to a full-size clay model of the interior to check the placement to create the ideal cabin environment.
They repeatedly built up the height of the instrument panel then shaved it back down, changing the shape of the parts and making slight adjustments to the way they lined up and fit together.
Kiyoshi Kitsuki, clay modeler
The numerous leftover prototypes are a testament to the length of the process. For example, the team created more than 50 different prototypes for the air-conditioning louvers alone. By persevering through this process, however, they were able to faithfully recreate the environment shown in the original design sketch.
Made possible by engineers who shared the designers’ ambitions and always gave their best
The decorative panel on the instrument panel also plays an important role in achieving a simple design that conveys the Japanese attention to fine detail. This required not a mere expression of luxury but a new tastefulness.
“Even though we could get a strong metallic look, it fell short of the crucial sense of depth we were after,” said Nobuhiro Matsuoka, the color designer. Wood, which would have offered a look of higher quality, is too conventional. After exploring numerous options, the design team decided to venture down a new path by combining materials.”
Nobuhiro Matsuoka, Color designer
What they came up with was an entirely new decorative film that conveys both the warmth of wood and the strength of metal.
The process involved numerous trips to the manufacturer’s facilities and a trial-and-error process to test various tones and the order in which the colors should be applied. The final product uses a 12-layer printed coating for depth.
A selection of the trial decorative films the team created
As with the air-conditioning louvers, development of the film took more than a year to reach the final stage.
A variety of sample decoration panels
Both Iwahara and Matsuoka emphasized that the design for the all-new CX-5 could not have been achieved by the design team alone. It was only possible thanks to the engineers, from layout through to production and including suppliers, who shared the designers’ ambitions, were willing to explore every possibility and gave their best efforts in a spirit of collaboration. The unwavering commitment of every development team member is apparent throughout the new CX-5 interior as is their desire to please customers around the world.
Our next installment will take an in-depth look at Soul Red Crystal, a new body color introduced for the first time on the all-new CX-5. Please look forward to it.