Lexus Stitching Dojo

5/3/2012—Okay, you’re sold. You’re excited. August can’t come soon enough. Why? Because that’s when the 2013 ES arrives in Lexus dealerships, and one of them will be yours—all yours.

But because August is still a few months away, we thought we could at least give you a periodic look at what’s happening with your ES at the moment—and we’ll start with the stitching dojo.

You see, your new 2013 Lexus ES will feature a small but premium design element: real stitching that runs along the top of the instrument panel upholstery. For several reasons (the materials involved, the precision required), this stitching work requires extremely skilled craftspeople to apply flawlessly—but the result adds a warm, handcrafted touch that contrasts elegantly with the high-tech feel of the panel’s gauges.

Enter the stitching dojo, Lexus’ special training facility for discovering and fine-tuning its ES-stitching talent. As of today, only about 12 craftspeople have made the cut.

Lexus first evaluates potential stitching specialists’ dexterity, and one of the qualifying tests is to fold a piece of paper into a perfectly constructed origami cat. Challenging but doable, right? But understand this: the folding must be done with only one hand—the non-dominant one—and it must be completed in under 90 seconds.

Qualified specialists next need to acquire the necessary skills for the job, which they get through a systematic, 10-step training program. The training takes three months, and the craftspeople are required to master all 10 steps before they can perform actual 2013 ES production work.

When done just right, the stitching is simple and elegant, but the work that goes into it is difficult. A large piece of urethane upholstery is placed on a sewing machine and manipulated by hand at just the right speed. Unlike a flat piece of leather, the urethane is three-dimensional, and every curve and corner must be handled precisely.

After the stitching is complete, it’s of course visually inspected for imperfections—all so you, a future 2013 ES owner, will be pleased with the results.


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