Design is a continuous process of concentration and sublimation in which each step has to be worked through carefully to the end. If there is no nugget of inspiration in the ideas at the sketching stage, no matter how much they are refined later at the modeling stage, they will fail to shine. Only when all the designers are truly committed to seeing it through to the end, can a design that possesses originality and a high degree of completeness be realized.
The car design process begins with a design concept. Having been briefed on the development goal, the target customer profile, and other aspects of the vehicle development plan, the design team first thinks about the car design concept. The designers research their own market and, bearing in mind the latest trends and other factors, explore what themes meet the customers needs. There follows exhaustive discussions until designers are satisfied with a shared vehicle image as the concept.
Idea Sketch — computer
Pencils, pastels, markers and the other sketching tools used by designers have changed with the times. Nowadays, personal computers play an important role as drawing tools for designers.
Computers allow the designer to examine design ideas, sophisticated expressions, and visual images in a short time. Personal computers are thus a valuable tool for designers that offer them a way for expressing the image they want to convey.
In the creation of a three-dimensional clay model, the clay modeler works together with the designer to ensure an understanding of the original intention, using eyes and hands to check the actual finished lines and surfaces as the model takes shape. In forming a shared idea of the design goal, image and themes, a satisfactory result will not be possible unless the modeler and the designer can achieve a united approach. The work involves molding and chiseling then molding and chiseling again. By repeating this process, which may seem simple to an outsider, the shape of the vehicle is tested and refined down to the finest line.
When exploring the interior design, a mock-up that is as close as possible to the real object is used. The wood modeler uses not just wood but plastics, metal, fabrics and a wide range of other materials to create a full-size model of the designer's idea. The designer can then check not only the spaciousness and feel of the cabin but also the cabin accessibility, ensuring visibility, the visual "friendliness" of the meters and the operability of the controls at a full-size scale.
Toyota's wood modelers include professionals who have won first prize in the international technical skills contest known as the World Skills Competition.
Looking from the customer angle
In a final design process, customer's angle is needed. The Decision Hall has a roof that opens and closes. When the roof is opened, the design of the model, which is placed on a turntable, can be studied under natural light from every direction despite the indoor location. The facility also has special lighting that allows the model to be viewed in conditions close to natural light on rainy days and at night.
The facility also has virtual display capabilities. On the screen, an image of the actual vehicle is projected. This makes it possible to study the design of a number of vehicles at the same time.
Viewing vehicles in natural light. Viewing vehicles digitally. Regardless of the method used, the most important thing is to see things from the customer's viewpoint.