Toyota snubs high-tech cars in favour of wooden concept for Milan design week

Milan 2016: Toyota has created an open-top two-seater vehicle made out of wood to combat the idea that "modern cars have to be high-tech machines packed with the latest technologies" (+ slideshow).

The Toyota Setsuna concept car was designed in wood to highlight the affection owners develop for family vehicles over time, which is in contrast to the more disposable nature of digital devices.

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

"Wood was chosen as the primary material for Setsuna's construction to express the idea that love grows as time passes," said the Japanese auto brand in a statement. "Wood changes in colour and feel in direct response to the love and care shown to it."

"As Setsuna is passed from generation to generation, the physical changes in its wooden bodywork reflect the bond it has built with its owners and their shared experiences."

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

Toyota said that the Setsuna is not a piece of furniture, it is a fully functional vehicle. However it isn't road legal.

Japanese cedar forms the exterior panels due to its flexibility and distinctive grain, while Japanese birch is used for the vehicle's frame, thanks to its rigidity.

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

Each section of the car is joined using traditional Japanese joinery techniques, according to the manufacturer. These include "okuriari", a type of dovetail joint, and "kusabi", a mortise and tenon joint.

"Okuriari allows the panels to be fitted without using nails, so they can be easily removed," said Toyota. "It makes for stronger joints and allows minor changes to be made to the mortise and dovetail joints if they become worn over time."

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

The joints in the vehicle's frame feature split tenons that lock into their corresponding through-tenons, securing the vehicle's structure.

Inside, the seats are made out of Japanese Zelkova – a tree often grown for ornamentation purposes – and smooth-textured Castor Aralia.

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

"When we created Setsuna, we envisaged a family pouring its love into it over generations so that the car gains an irreplaceable value," said Toyota's project engineer Kenji Tsuji.

A 100-year clock features on the vehicle's dashboard, indicating "its years of constant service to successive generations and its evolving role as a valued member of the family in its own right".

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

Aluminium is used to create a contrast with the wooden elements on the wheels, seat frames and steering wheel.

"While we used wood as the main material, we also poured lots of time and passion into the car itself with our colleagues, creating a prototype and evaluating it so that the car would offer basic performance in the form of driving feel and comfort," concluded Tsuji.

Wooden Toyota Setsuna concept car for Milan design week 2016

The wooden Toyota Setsuna will be the focus of the brand's first appearance at Milan design week. Other major brands making debuts in Milan include sportswear giant Nike and car manufacturer MINI.

The vehicle will be on display next week at 31 Via Tortona in Milan.

Other designs that will be on show during Milan design week include a collection of "intentionally boring" office furniture, a series of 50 chairs based on manga-style comic books and a range of splotchy metal stools.