Lexus LS: Fourth Generation

The Story of the Lexus LS Spindle Grille

Lexus LS Spindle Grille

This story was originally published by Lexus Europe.

Bringing to life the spindle grille design on the all-new Lexus LS would not have been possible without the human accuracy of an exceptional craftsman, transforming machined output into work of art.

Lexus LS Craftsman Yasuhiro Nakashima

The pattern on the evolved, iconic spindle grille is of such delicate complexity, it required an unusually high level of human skill in both the design and fabrication stages to complete. From computer screen to finished product, constant artisan involvement ensured the beauty of the designer’s original vision was fully expressed.

Lexus LS Spindle Crafting

The new design features a single intricate span of interlocking Lexus ‘L’ motifs, a web-like tapestry inspired by the fine delicate patterns of those found in nature. While previous designs called for two separate upper and lower molds, the designers at Lexus challenged themselves to express the new incredibly complex grille as a single, integrated piece.

While the computer modelling program rendered the pattern with reasonable accuracy, completing the precise design required a human eye. Augmenting the computer render was a skilled design modeller in an unprecedented display of dedication to detail, working a typical eight hour day over a six month period to individually adjust the curved surfaces of five thousand motifs on-screen. Reflecting the performance spirit of the LS F SPORT variant, the grille has an even more dynamic expression requiring edits to over seven thousand surfaces.

Now complete, the intricate, computer-rendered pattern – finished by meticulous human manipulation into a work of art – continues its journey in the hands of a metal mold Takumi craftsman.

Lexus LS Spindle Molding

“Takumi” describes a craftsperson with the highest levels of technical skill and precise application, honed over decades of experience in his or her field of expertise. Yasuhiro Nakashima has spent twenty-seven years learning and honing his craft – filing, shaping and polishing metal molds to extremely exact levels. The Takumi master possesses a natural competitiveness and a passion to be the best at what he does, the depth of his dedication illustrated in his own set of customized tools – including hand-made bamboo instruments to shape finer details. When Nakashima received the all-new Lexus LS spindle grille design from the Lexus Design team, he needed to bring his passionate artisanship to ensure the mold’s accuracy.

Lexus LS Spindle Closer

The uncommonly large single grille required the finished mold to be structurally sound while also accurately reflecting the finely detailed design. The machines and processes used to create the mold are amongst the very best available anywhere but – reflecting the same human factor in the design – finishing with absolute accuracy necessitated a remarkable human skill. With his customized toolset and experienced eye, Nakashima is able to refine surface smoothness to within 100 microns (0.1 millimeter) – a difference even the best robotic milling technology cannot detect.

During the finishing he also anticipates details technology cannot, polishing by hand the minute individual surfaces in directions that improve the reflective aesthetic of the grille’s final coating. These details may not be readily noticeable at a casual glance but are further indication of the dedication he applies to his craft with techniques refined over decades.

Lexus LS Spindle Inspection

Fabricating a mold to the exactness articulated in the design demanded extra attention from Nakashima that helped push the production stage out to five months – over a month longer than usual. Throughout the process, he collaborated with the design team – each challenging the other, designer and craftsman working together to ensure the very best outcome.

Koichi Suga, Lexus Project Chief Designer complements Nakashima, “We consistently pushed our partners beyond previous thresholds to help deliver a vehicle that delights the public enough to want to buy it. I know this can be very difficult at times but I also know Nakashima-san shares our vision and worked extremely hard to realize our design”. Nakashima concludes, “I want those who see the grille to appreciate the design and to feel wonder over its creation, I want them to be amazed at first glance”.

Lexus has redefined its flagship sedan and set it apart from the competition with unique, imaginative design and elevated levels of craftsmanship that make the impossible, a reality. And that story begins at the front, with the completely reimagined spindle grille.

Comments
Lexus don't get it this is not a generation that cares much about details but this is not the problem. You can't design and perfect individual part of the overal design individually, you can't have for a example the spindle grill that looks super spectacular in details and appearance while the rest entire design design look okay. What the point of being proud of having beautifull detailing when the entire design lacks appeal overal
Axel
Lexus don't get it this is not a generation that cares much about details but this is not the problem. You can't design and perfect individual part of the overal design individually, you can't have for a example the spindle grill that looks super spectacular in details and appearance while the rest entire design design look okay. What the point of being proud of having beautifull detailing when the entire design lacks appeal overal
Sorry, you don't get it, luxury buyers appreciate attention to detail and craftsmanship.
zeusus
Sorry, you don't get it, luxury buyers appreciate attention to detail and craftsmanship.
Precisely, when I bought my LC500, I wasn't just buying a car, in a sense, I was buying a work of art, something more than just a car. The attention to detail and craftmanship that went into the LC's design (and the LS's design) and goes into its production makes these vehicles far more than the sum of their parts. It is what contributes to the sense of AWE when you see your car parked, then get into your car (this is a continual experience), start it up, and drive it away; this AWE experience is a key feature of these 2 Lexus vehicles. It is what makes the car worth $100k+ . Not only do I love to drive the car, but I feel really good in the car, good and special being an owner of the car. It will soon be a year that I've owned the LC. This part of the experience has not diminished. Not only that, but almost every day I have people coming up to me and either looking at or talking with me about how much they love the car's looks. That's because of the attention to detail and the craftsmanship and, quite honestly, the ART in the car. I still feel like I've driving a piece of art. I kid you not. It is an awesome experience. Lexus really does get it and they get it better than BMW and Mercedes, at least in their current models. If you look at the concept cars at the recent car shows, everyone else seems to be trying to catch up to Lexus in this department.
the spindle grill may be controversial, with zero happy medium. people love it our downright hate it. its first incarnation was okay. i really liked it, and it was different! however its current design is downright breathtaking. plus it really gives our cars a serious instant identity! see the grill, youll know exactly what it is!
Axel
Lexus don't get it this is not a generation that cares much about details but this is not the problem. You can't design and perfect individual part of the overal design individually, you can't have for a example the spindle grill that looks super spectacular in details and appearance while the rest entire design design look okay. What the point of being proud of having beautifull detailing when the entire design lacks appeal overal
Sorry, but this website is for people who are Lexus enthusiasts. I have seen you on several posts just commenting stuff like this (with incoherent and grammatically incorrect sentences may I add - makes it very hard to read). Lexus cars are beautiful, and I, as a buyer, appreciate their attention to detail. It's what makes Lexus so great since other brands like BMW are all about just producing a product and many of them (that's why they have so many useless models like the X4, X2, and X6).
So, please, do not speak for "this generation" on what we care about and what we don't. Also, please, learn how to form a sentence.
let me add that this sense of AWE and attention to detail and craftsmanship distinguishes other Lexus models as well, not just the LC and LS. Lexus is putting more and more of this into its new versions/ editions of current models as well as the new models. This is an exciting time for Lexus and Lexus lovers (and Lexus buyers)!
R
  • R
    RAL
  • March 23, 2018
One thing is for sure ... the spindle grille stirs passions both for and against!
But let's go easy on one another ... This is a safe place to share opinion and all are to be mutually respected ... Thanks
For anybody that questions whether or not Lexus is interested in details or art







Even though I had abandoned discussing the design and development history months for several reasons, seeing this, I cannot help but wonder if I should revisit it? Especially because of the sheer detail from it all and one-on-one information, not being inhibited by language barrier for the interviewee.
R
I really dislike this Spindle grille and sincerely wish Lexus would review their apparent attraction to it. The first spindles were not too bad and served the purpose of creating an identity but Lexus have chosen to just make them larger and more predominant than they ever needed to be.
Please stop it and re think your direction the cars are good and do not need to be vilified by having such a controversial front grille.
Regrettably i see the new Toyota Avalon now also has an even bigger jaw - Really what are you thinking!
Look at the competition like Merc BMW etc refined and elegant all over - come on Lexus you can and have to do better if you are to crack the market.
Even Mazda have better looking cars at the moment.
When I bought my first car, its was the 2016 IS200t. Among the many deciding factors which helped me chooses between the new Mercedes C Class and the Lexus (styling, price, standard kit/options, reliability), the things that sold me were the F-sport spindle grill and the LFA inspired gauges of the F-sport! And I love the grill of the new LS in the standard non F-Sport variant, it is amazing, I have seen it in person and I think that distinctiveness of the spindle grill keeps the car relevant by keeping the buyer decision polarized, love it or hate it, at least you talk about it.

In my buying decision then, the BMW or Audi never even figured, BMW had lost any desirability it had for me when I was younger and my wife's Audi Q7 was enough Audi for me, nothing to write home about.
zeusus
For anybody that questions whether or not Lexus is interested in details or art







love these pics! they really say it all!:thumbsup:
Carmaker1
Even though I had abandoned discussing the design and development history months for several reasons, seeing this, I cannot help but wonder if I should revisit it? Especially because of the sheer detail from it all and one-on-one information, not being inhibited by language barrier for the interviewee.
I always enjoy your posts, a bit like hearing from a Lexus historian in the flesh. Go for it :fist:
Carmaker1
Even though I had abandoned discussing the design and development history months ago for several reasons, seeing this, I cannot help but wonder if I should revisit it? Especially because of the sheer detail from it all and one-on-one information, not being inhibited by language barrier for the Japanese interviewee.
I also enjoyed your posts and learned a lot from them. I also say Go For it! :)
R
  • R
    RAL
  • March 24, 2018
Carmaker1
Even though I had abandoned discussing the design and development history months ago for several reasons, seeing this, I cannot help but wonder if I should revisit it? Especially because of the sheer detail from it all and one-on-one information, not being inhibited by language barrier for the Japanese interviewee.
Please do ...
Rob Grieveson
I really dislike this Spindle grille and sincerely wish Lexus would review their apparent attraction to it. The first spindles were not too bad and served the purpose of creating an identity but Lexus have chosen to just make them larger and more predominant than they ever needed to be.
They reviewed it. They found they made big money because of it. So they are keeping it.
zeusus
I always enjoy your posts, a bit like hearing from a Lexus historian in the flesh. Go for it :fist:
PeterF
I also enjoyed your posts and learned a lot from them. I also say Go For it! :)
RAL
Please do ...
:thumbsup:Can't set a timetable yet, but I really have struggled with time on compiling all of the information I had into one well-sumarized post. Contradictory timelines from various sources and misinterpretation of context have made it more daunting. All in the midst of life of course and so many obligations lol.

To be honest, my LS flagship writing focus really intimated me on getting things done and obsession to have plenty of text, not just photos. My best information is all LS and that has 5 generations of text and photos. The 1LS is the holy grail, the new generation is just too all over the place in development info to just write up so quickly, without having everything answered (more research is needed).

I might start a poll on which model & generation of Lexus I should start with. I originally thought about hiring someone to do all this, but I really trust writing myself, as no one has time to hear me dictate what I want typed up and written here. Plus that idea is a little too overboard and less original.

-ES 250 has very limited info (but I have the story/timeline behind it). 2ES and 3ES has little to no info, until 4th generation development from 1997 to 2001. Nothing for 5ES and 6ES. There is only a mockup phto for 2ES from 1991 Camry program. I will definitely report about 7ES by end of 2018/early 2019.

-1GS is limited info, mostly Giugaro based from 1988 and not much else. 2GS, 3GS, and 4GS have full dev. info from 1993 to 2015 (includes facelift 4GS).

-LX and GX are virtually nonexistent in terms of photography (backstory), because of marketing sensitivity to Land Cruiser connection at Lexus USA and lack of JDM presence.

-I have 100% all LS generations, on history of development from 1983 to 2017.

-Both SC and LC generations developed since 1986.

-LFA Story has been told many times, so I won't really touch that. (Undecided)

-1IS generation is limited info (80% Altezza-based) from 1994 to 2000, 2IS and 3IS are 90-100% (2001-2013).

-All RX generation programs from 1993 to 2015.

-NX story as well from June 2009 to 2014.

-CT development as well
Carmaker1
:thumbsup:Can't set a timetable yet, but I really have struggled with time on compiling all of the information I had into one well-sumarized post. Contradictory timelines from various sources and misinterpretation of context have made it more daunting. All in the midst of life of course and so many obligations lol.

To be honest, my LS flagship writing focus really intimated me on getting things done and obsession to have plenty of text, not just photos. My best information is all LS and that has 5 generations of text and photos. The 1LS is the holy grail, the new generation is just too all over the place in development info to just write up so quickly, without having everything answered (more research is needed).

I might start a poll on which model & generation of Lexus I should start with. I originally thought about hiring someone to do all this, but I really trust writing myself, as no one has time to hear me dictate what I want typed up and written here. Plus that idea is a little too overboard and less original.

-ES 250 has very limited info (but I have the story/timeline behind it). 2ES and 3ES has little to no info, until 4th generation development from 1997 to 2001. Nothing for 5ES and 6ES. There is only a mockup phto for 2ES from 1991 Camry program. I will definitely report about 7ES by end of 2018/early 2019.

-1GS is limited info, mostly Giugaro based from 1988 and not much else. 2GS, 3GS, and 4GS have full dev. info from 1993 to 2015 (includes facelift 4GS).

-LX and GX are virtually nonexistent in terms of photography (backstory), because of marketing sensitivity to Land Cruiser connection at Lexus USA and lack of JDM presence.

-I have 100% all LS generations, on history of development from 1983 to 2017.

-Both SC and LC generations developed since 1986.

-LFA Story has been told many times, so I won't really touch that. (Undecided)

-1IS generation is limited info (80% Altezza-based) from 1994 to 2000, 2IS and 3IS are 90-100% (2001-2013).

-All RX generation programs from 1993 to 2015.

-NX story as well from June 2009 to 2014.

-CT development as well

That is so much to choose from! I'm not sure if this is on the table but what I'd like to hear about most is the time between the design and production of the 4LS and 5LS in context of competing in the full size luxury segment and how that correlates to Lexus figuring how to attack the segment with the S class dominance and heavy competition from all sides. To understand the thought and process of this timeline would be quite awesome, in my opinion.
The LS Spindle is mesmerizing to me and so bold for this class. I love both the luxury and F-Sport grills. I do wonder how it would have looked with the traditional horizontal slants.
I prefer both new grilles to the horizontal slats, but it would be interesting to see a Photochop.

I
Top