These expert artisans check every aspect, from the hum of the engine to the stitching of the leather.
Craftsmen of perfection

These expert artisans check every aspect, from the hum of the engine to the stitching of the leather.

To test their dexterity, the takumi make an origami cat in under 90 seconds, with just one hand.

Armure de Kunimuri, du clan des Heiké.

The armour of Kunimuri, of the Heike clan.

Armure de Kunimuri, du clan des Heiké.

The armour of Kunimuri, of the Heike clan.

Luxury is all about the highest standards and attention to detail. Japanese automaker Lexus aims for perfection. Its well-guarded secret: the takumi, skilled craftsmen who participate in the manufacture of each vehicle.

“Put your work twenty times upon the anvil,” was Nicolas Boileau’s advice to writers in his Art of Poetry. This motto penned by the 17th-century French poet could also apply to Japan’s present-day takumi, or highly skilled craftsmen. The word, formed by two characters: taku, meaning “to open” or “to expand” and mi, meaning “fruit,” “good result” and also “beauty,” speaks for itself. In Japan, a takumi strives for perfection. Whether they be cabinetmakers, ceramicists, weavers or goldsmiths, they must have acquired this expertise through an accumulated 10,000 hours of work. And sometimes more, as is the case in the luxury car industry, which also calls on these extraordinarily dexterous artisans. At Lexus, a Toyota subsidiary founded in 1989, a takumi must have clocked up 50,000 hours of work, or 25 years of experience. Just by passing their hand over a dashboard, they can detect a flaw, feel an irregular grain in the leather or a clumsy stitch in a seam. Naturally, very few of them get through the selection process, and in the largest of the Lexus factories in Japan, in Kyushu, there are only 19 takumi among the 7,700 workers who make the brand’s cars with their characteristic design feature: the double-trapezoid grille. Among the various takumi artisans at Lexus, those working on the trim regularly test their manual skills in a unique way: by making an origami cat. Just try turning a piece of paper into a feline with perfect ears and nose with your two hands; and then have another go using your non-dominant hand, without a table, and in just 90 seconds. That’s the kind of exercise these very special craftsmen subject themselves to, as a test of their dexterity. But these experts, whose task it is to check the faultless assembly of the 30,000 parts that make up an SUV or a hybrid coupé, or to ensure that each coat of paint is flawlessly smooth, are also masters of their craft. They have a responsibility to pass on their expertise, the art of perfection. You’ll never look at a car the same way again.

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