Lexus builds a paper car…and it works!
Inside Lexus’ factories, a group of ten “masters” are each responsible for a key area of the vehicle. They are a team of the most experienced and revered engineers, who oversee hundreds of employees and command great respect in the industry. They are called takumi’s (or artisans). The takumi’s are considered the best in their respective crafts – from paint to wood veneer to engine – and they hone and test their dexterity by folding an origami cat with their non-dominant hand.
To honour the takumi’s (and the paper cat), Lexus embarked on the Origami Car project, with London-based LaserCut Works and Scales and Models – specialists in design and creation of prototypes and architectural models – and packaging producer, DS Smith. The goal was to build a life-size paper replica of the Lexus IS sports sedan…which can be driven.
The result is a car fashioned out of 1,700 pieces of laser-cut corrugated cardboard, supported by a hidden frame made from steel and aluminium. So, not completely paper, but it has working doors and headlights, an impressively detailed interior, and wheels that actually roll. The car can support the weight of passengers and an ELECTRIC MOTOR, making the Origami Car essentially a functioning electric car.
The team started with the actual CAD model of the Lexus IS, and dissected it into one-centimetre thick cross-sections. The information was used to programme a laser cutter to produce the precise cardboard cutouts. The team credited the technologies that allowed them to build the car in just three months, but the assembly process still took good ol’ elbow grease and a lot of glue, which took 10 minutes to dry in between each layer (brings back memories of paper mache projects from our childhood).
The Origami Car is obviously not intended for production, even though it can be driven. There are no safety features, and irreparable damage can be caused by taking it out in the rain or simply spilling a cup of coffee. But it is a celebration of “human craftsmanship”, which Lexus boasts of its cars. And if Lexus doesn’t know what to do with the car after this, they can simply chuck the whole thing into the recycling bin.