Milan Design Week 2016 : Toyota Motors : Set to debut later this month during Italy’s Milan Design Week. The two-seatSetsuna is that rarest of cars — one that hews less toward ephemeral style trends and more toward an heirloom-quality aesthetic. It is a vehicle built to last not for five years, or even 50, but for generations. Even the car’s name, which means “a moment” or “an instant” in Japanese, alludes to its aspirations to be something more than just the flavor of the week. To drive home this Zen-like point, the dashboard (an actual board, of course) features a century meter that monitors not only minutes and hours, but the years of ownership — in essence, chronicling the collective moments enjoyed between car and owner.
Carmakers have long understood the allure of wood, from grand wood-bodied American classics like the 1947 Chrysler Town & Country to splendid modern applications of exotic veneers in modern Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. But the Setsunaunabashedly embraces the material with much more verve and fervor.
This isn’t just a layer of polished wood affixed to a mass-market car; it is a wooden car. Its use of the material has nothing to do with a desire to give an impression of clubby luxury; Setsuna’s unvarnished beauty honours its source — and, like the trees from which it is made, this is a car created to endure.
The roadster’s superb craftsmanship is reflected in its stout Japanese birch frame. Precision-cut pieces were assembled using classic Japanese joinery techniques called okuri ari and kusabi, which connect pieces not with nails or screws, but with exquisite housed-dovetail and blind double-wedged mortise-and-tenon joints. The 86 exterior pieces were hand-fashioned from Japanese cedar, and the seats frames, wrapped in simple leather swaths, are crafted of polished castor aralia wood, a species typically used for traditional Japanese tableware.