At first glance, this wild-looking Lexus might appear as though it was created via some breakthrough 3D-printing technique, but look more closely and you won’t see any plastic. It’s actually a one-off, life-sized origami model that expertly reconstructs the new IS sedan line for line. And believe it or not, you can sit in it and drive it around.

Lexus commissioned the project as a “celebration of the human craftsmanship skills” that go into each of its models, particularly from the workers on the production line. Also known as “takumi” (the Japanese word for “artisan”), Lexus asks these men and women to sharpen their dexterity by folding an origami cat using only their non-dominant hand.

The origami Lexus was constructed using 1,700 individual cardboard sheets, each laser-cut for exacting precision. You’ll also find working headlights and a frame made from steel and aluminum Nearly every other component, however, is recreated with cardboard, including the body, opening doors, rolling wheels, and a full interior. The car is also quite green – motive power is derived from an electric motor, and all of the cardboard is recyclable.

From start to finish, the project took three months to complete. U.K. residents can check out the origami Lexus in person when it makes its first public debut at the Grand Designs Live Show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham, October 8th.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

Lexus Unveils Drivable IS Full-Size Origami
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The origami Lexus was created by a five-member team of designers and modelers from LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, two U.K-based companies that specialize in prototyping and architectural models. Meanwhile, the cardboard came from manufacturer DS Smith.

Even though it’s made of the same stuff used to store junk in your Mom’s attic, the origami Lexus called for a good deal of technology in its creation. First, Lexus provided the team with a digital 3D model of the car, which was used to render specific sections (body, dash, seats, wheels, etc.). Each component was then broken down even further into individual 10 mm “slices” that would be used to recreate the 3D shapes using 2D cardboard layers. Finally, each slice was given a reference number for assembly.

Alongside the computer modeling and lasers, the car had to have that all-important, artisanal human touch. As such, the final phase saw the whole thing put together by hand using a water-based wood glue.

Ruben Marcos, founder and director at Scales and Models, said the seats and wheels were particularly challenging, requiring multiple iterations to perfect.

“In effect we created our own vehicle production line,” Marcos said. “There was a lot of repetition in the process and we had to work with military precision, just like the teams that make the real Lexus cars.”

First there was metal, then plastic, then carbon fiber. Is cardboard the next big material revolution?

No, but this thing is still pretty cool. The level of accuracy is just insane, particularly in the cabin – check out the pictures to see what I mean. 

Lexus IS

2014 - 2016 Lexus IS High Resolution Exterior
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You can read our full review of Lexus IS here.

Press Release

There has never been a Lexus like it: sheet metal, glass and plastics have been set aside for the creation of a one-off life-size model crafted in precision-cut cardboard. The remarkable Lexus Origami Car is a faithful replica of the new IS saloon, produced as a celebration of the human craftsmanship skills that go into every car Lexus makes.

Lexus Unveils Drivable IS Full-Size Origami
- image 649326

The skilled men and women – known as takumi – who work on the Lexus production lines hone their dexterity skills by learning how to fold paper into a origami model cat, using only their non-dominant hand. The Origami Car takes the spirit of this talent to a far higher level, while also embracing the spirit of Lexus’s Creating Amazing global brand campaign.

Posted on 5 October 2015
LEXUS UNVEILS FULL-SIZE ORIGAMI INSPIRED CAR

Replica IS saloon celebrates Lexus craftsmanship

Created as a celebration of the skills of Lexus’s takumi craftsmen and women, capturing the spirit of Creating Amazing in design and engineering
Life-size replica of the new IS saloon, crafted from 1,700 fully recyclable laser-cut cardboard sheets
Created by a five-strong team of professional designers and modellers from specialist companies LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, supported by DS Smith (cardboard manufacturers)
Powered by an electric motor, the Origami Car can be driven

Click here to view a full image gallery of the Origami Inspired Car

Lexus Unveils Drivable IS Full-Size Origami
- image 649328

There has never been a Lexus like it: sheet metal, glass and plastics have been set aside for the creation of a one-off life-size model crafted in precision-cut cardboard. The remarkable Lexus Origami Car is a faithful replica of the new IS saloon, produced as a celebration of the human craftsmanship skills that go into every car Lexus makes.

The skilled men and women – known as takumi – who work on the Lexus production lines hone their dexterity skills by learning how to fold paper into a origami model cat, using only their non-dominant hand. The Origami Car takes the spirit of this talent to a far higher level, while also embracing the spirit of Lexus’s Creating Amazing global brand campaign.

The Origami Car has a fully fitted interior, functioning doors, headlights and rolling wheels. Thanks to an electric motor mounted on its steel and aluminium frame, it can even be driven.

In terms of size and complexity, the project was an unprecedented undertaking for LaserCut Works and Scales and Models, London-based specialist companies with extensive experience in the design and creation of prototypes, architectural models and bespoke commissions.

Ruben Marcos, Scales and Models Company founder and director explained: “This was a very demanding job, with five people involved in the digital design, modelling, laser cutting and assembly. Just like Lexus, we were committed to producing the best possible quality.”

The creative process presented the team with a series of tough challenges: “The seats took a few attempts to get just right and the wheels required a lot of refining. Once we could see the physical pieces taking shape, we could identify where we needed to make improvements – as with anything, there were some elements of trial and error, but as we had all the resources we needed in-house, this made the changes easier to produce.”

Lexus Unveils Drivable IS Full-Size Origami
- image 649329

Lexus provided the team with a digital 3D model of the IS, which was then divided into a series of principal parts, such as the main body, dashboard, seats and wheels. These were then digitally rendered in 10mm “slices” to provide the two-dimensional profiles needed for the laser cutting of each of the 1,700 sheets of 10mm-thick of cardboard – supplied by packaging experts DS Smith. Each layer was given its own reference number to help ensure it was assembled in the right sequence and the entire assembly was done by hand. A water-based/wood glue was used, which had to be left to set for 10 minutes after each application. Accuracy was vital, as changes couldn’t be made once the glue had dried. In all, the Origami Car took three months to build.

“In effect we created our own vehicle production line,” said Ruben. “There was a lot of repetition in the process and we had to work with military precision, just like the teams that make the real Lexus cars.”

This unique vehicle will be revealed to the public as a star attraction at the Grand Designs Live Show at the NEC in Birmingham, from 8 October.

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