Quiet Please For The Giant Of Coimbra

Ever on the look out for items overlooked by the mainstream media, DTW has been out to land these stories for your delectation.

Recaro´s “seating tomorrow” concept: source

The focus today is on seating and fabrics. I found out that Adient, Johnson Controls and Recaro are part of the same group; Zedtex is an Asian supplier to OEMs and if you want a fabric like a Hermes scarf it seems you must contact Sage (now owned by AsahiKasi). Oddly, none of those three go far out of their way to show us what they do or suggest exciting new advances.

2018 Sage Echelon fabrics- who uses them? Source

Take Sage Echelon, the fabric like a Hermes scarf. It has no web-presence at all (apart from their site and this one). What’s the point of that? Sage “holds the No. 1 global share for vehicle seat fabrics” (not including fake and real hide). The Echelon product range seems to consist of Dinamica which we have read about here before – it’s a microfibre suede. And that in turn is supplied by Asahi Kasei who make a product called Lamous (since the 1980s which seems to be a Japanese alcantara-type material). It is not only used in cars but in clothes and domestic seating.

Recaro showed that truck interior this summer. It assumes the “driver” does little but sit there and get massaged. Those seats don’t suggest to me a great deal of comfort and the fabric is dismal. If I was Recaro I’d be trimming their show-interiors with something more thrilling.

Lear came up in my search and allowed me to show this juicy image of a JLR interior (by Lear):

Lear makes this – source

You can tell this material is not intended for the casual reader. Lear says: “When you experience a Crafted by Lear™ seat, you feel an automotive manufacturer’s unique design brought to life with its original emotional intent intact. From early inspiration to beautifully engineered completion, Crafted by Lear™ utilizes Lear’s vertically-integrated capabilities and upfront, customer involvement to seamlessly combine premium materials, customized innovations, and thoughtful design, elevating the next generation of seat design.” That tinily much says nothing to make you feel like turning your custom towards anyone particular. It is not selling Lear’s evident expertise.

Boyriven are less shy about telling us who their customers are: all safely within the UK so no hold-ups at the Channel come March 2019. Or maybe they will. Who can say. Aston, Rolls, Morgan, Mini, Bentley and Lotus are all served by Boyriven. I suppose confidentiality means that the only automotive case study at their site related to Worcestershire Wedding Cars need for a new interior.

(c)  gmauthority.com 2017 Buick LaCrosse interior. The center console of the All-New 2017 Buick LaCrosse features touchscreen technology, wood decorative trim and Moon White ambient lighting

In the end I had to give up this search for arresting images of future fabrics or even current ones and reverted to more colour trend work – which we’ve already done this week. One by-product of this is that I discovered the name for the pale pink I’ve been seeing on people’s shoes: Millennial Pink.

Millennial Pink

“It’s a desaturated shade of pink – a pale, chalky neutral with a warm tint – that millennials embrace as their genderless mascot. Interestingly, it’s not Barbie, it’s not bubblegum, not the pink of generations past. In short, the unpinkness of millennial pink is changing the way people think about the female experience.

2002 Lancia Phedra interior: Lancia.fr

I will have to attend the Automotive Interiors Exhibition in 2019, won’t I?

Another snippet is that more carbon fibre is being used in car interiors though you may not notice it – and a good thing too as it looks nasty. There’s a reason this kind of thing is not reported much. It’s like paint and glass – below the level of most people’s attention.

Author: richard herriott

I like anchovies. I dislike post-war town planning.

16 thoughts on “Quiet Please For The Giant Of Coimbra”

  1. The truck interior is as bland as could be. Millennial pink has just been through many wash cycles and equally bland.
    The Buick’s though is as lovely as fudge, smooth, inviting and pleasant. And then the Lear jet interior; salted caramel – rich, indulgent and probably bad for you but oh, how you would.
    But we yearn for an interior akin to the Lancia once more. Cozy, hopefully supportive and easy to hoover clean. Ahh…

    1. ‘hoover clean’ … haven’t heard that expression for an age – definitely fitted with the use of ‘cozy’ at the front of the sentence. Does Hoover still exist?

  2. Hi,

    I don’t mind the Reacro seats of that HGV too much. They have a homely quality to them and remind me a bit of early VW Golf’s seats. It’s just they might get plain black in no time with the kind of work a HGV driver does.

    Lately, I’ve been thinking several times about how we don’t put up seat covers anymore. I was briefly thinking of putting 2 covers for the front seats in my car because they got dirty until I remembered how naff they must be now so I started to try and spot them in the wild. I did not see many.

    I remember a time when it was a given that you’d buy seat covers and put them up as soon as you laid your hands on that new car. I used to love putting them up for my dad, it changed the atmosphere so much, so quickly !
    The 90’s saw some really garish ones coming to the market, very Lisa Franck notebook, come to think of it maybe this was the last straw for customers and hastened their extinction.

    I was thinking that perhaps dwindling seat covers sightIngs are because people tend not to keep a car as long as previous generations did, maybe a kind of disposable mentality that makes you not care about how it will all look in 10 years time because you’re likely to have moved on to another vehicle ?

    1. Fabric seat covers served a useful function when the default car seat covering was vinyl, hot and sweaty in the Summer and freezing cold in Winter. With the invention of tough, breathable and stain resistant synthetic fabrics, they fell by the wayside.

      Thirty years ago,every high street had a car accessory shop that sold all manner of (mainly useless) gadgets you could use to customise your base-spec Escort, Viva or Avenger, often with hilarious results. Such items are still widely available on the internet but seem to have fallen out of fashion, sadly.

    2. Hi Daniel,

      I know ! I’ve spent hours on chinese websites over the years marvelling at all the tackiness on display. But they’re some really ingenious and funny gadgets too. Iam guilty of buying fairly recently a set of light bulbs for headlights that go though all the colours of the rainbow at the touch of a tiny remote. They can blink, go through the colours maniacally like it’s a Rave party, one headlight can be blue, the other one orange. Tacky ? Very. Funny for my little nephews ? Very much too. I never use them on public road, tacky as hell and probably illegal.

    3. I always admire Japanese taxi interiors:

      I can’t think lace does much to protect the seats underneath, and white seems a very impractical colour for a taxi, but I admire the effort.

    4. Hi Richard,

      That looks very impractical indeed ! I guess it signals ‘Cleanliness’, since you have to work hard to keep them white presumably, in a country often obsessed with Hygiene.

  3. Hoover does still exist, albeit foreign owned. Having split from its U.S. parent company, the U.K. arm is now Italian owned, whereas the U.S. company is now in Chinese hands. Many venerable U.K. brands still exist but the implied Britishness is a chimera. For example, Bush, once synonymous with U.K. Radio and T.V. manufacturing, is now owned by Sainsburys and is applied to a range of mainly Far-Eastern manufactured domestic products, including washing machines and dishwashers. These are budget products sold by catalogue and internet retailer Argos.

  4. Talking about seats and Japan, I was just looking at a new limited edition Captur called ‘Tokyo edition’ and what striked me first was that the flowery pattern on the seats seems to mimic the lace found in local taxis as per Richard’s picture above. I think they’re unbelievably ugly to be honest, this mix of oriental and modern. I quite like the red outside and the pattern on it however. It’s all very DS3: the presence of a pattern on the roof, the center of the wheel matching the body colour. I guess Renault must be feeling left out of the premium small hatch market, where margins are good, and the Initiale Paris trim is not very well promoted or that well-defined so far in my opinion. Sure, their worldwide sales are healthy but something between Renault and Alpine might have helped.
    This summer Peugeot sold more privately-owned cars in France than Renault for the first time ever. If fleet sales are added Renault keeps its lead.

    1. Here’s a picture of the limited-edition Capture Tokyo edition:


      Looks like traditional Japanese flower patterns and of course the car is painted white, the traditional Japanese signal for cleanliness.
      In a country where used cars regularly get new steering wheels and gear knobs so the new owner doesn’t have to touch surfaces already used by somebody else you’d also expect lace seat covers…

    2. Hi Dave,

      Thank you for the picture, I added some last night but they wouldn’t go through.

  5. I look at that JLR interior, which is over the top but presumably where the barons of industry and hereritary aristocrats like to plop their behinds, and wonder – who actually designs and styles this stuff? Is it the OEM, or is it the supplier? It’s one thing to make it, but the overall co-ordinator has to be the brand name manufacturer, doesn’t it? Rather makes you wonder if anyone spends any real time looking at ergonomics what with the presumable back and forth on looks and production capability between OEM and supplier.

    Lear and Johnson Controls have been making seats for a long time – so I decided to see who supplies Mazda interiors, since I rather like what they do for the money. Looks like Toyo Seat make the seats, and DaikyoNishikawa make the instrument panel, console and door cards, with a helping of the Japanese version of Lamous ultrasuede made by Asahi Kasei. Yes, all well-known household names, ahem. Which Japanese craftsmen carve out the real wood inserts from sliver thin veneer that does a remarkable job of imitating plastic, is of course, a trade secret. Wouldn’t want Toyota to steal anyone to help out with the execrable finish of the new Camry dashboard, after all.

    Another DTW article that made me go and have a look and do a bit of digging. Well done! So far as seat fabrics go, the durability and colour issues were dealt with decades ago – but – the fly in the ointment is looks, the weave and whatever else interior designers deem important, means they have to continually test new product, because yesterday’s looks won’t do. Cheaper then to make ARTIficialCOw plastic leather and crow about it than to test and select cloths. Presumably the next level up of semi-leather plastic is what most cars receive when the customer selects “leather”. After that you get to real leather seating surfaces and so on up a quality gradient.

    1. Thanks. There is not so much interiors news out there that is digestible. I found I was looking at the same websites as the last time I investigated. As you will already have read here before, the interiors market is very conservative. Even showcars are not that original in terms of colour and trim. That last memorable one (partially) was that Cadillac saloon shown with wool: even that resembled something of the look of the kind of smart fabrics/materials Scandinavians look at these days. Colour and trim is very much the preserve of specialists. Customers are not expected to care about the supplier or material names any more than they care about who manufactured the plastics or coatings. To my way of looking at things it´s a wasted opportunity. I wouldn´t want an overdescribed car – just a little more insight on the good details.

      The JLR interior probably resulted from a Coventry or RCA graduate working with the suppliers in some back and forth. The design work could have been done in-house or at the supplier, depending on studio space more than anything. It´s far from my cup of tea. I don´t know if the customers really like this kind of thing or whether its accepted as conforming to what a high end interior should look like, not unlike the bland, fussy opulence of “six star” hotels where the interior designer has a huge budge and spends it regardless of whether 45 pieces of Waterford glass, another Persian rug and another bit of moulding will help. Maybe this is what that old monster Loos had in mind when raving about ornamentation being a crime. A little less ornamentation and some more thought would improve that JLR gin palace. I bet the person who designed thinks it´s horrible as well, probably drives a Volvo or Saab.

  6. “if you want a fabric like a Hermes scarf it seems you must contact Sage ”

    I take it you just mean “something that looks like silk”?

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