Lexus is well aware of how polarising its styling has become; the man who led the design process on two of the brand’s most arresting concept cars says that’s kind of the point.
Kevin Hunter is the president of Toyota’s Calty Design Research studios, located in California and Michigan, that created the LF-LC concept (which morphed into the LC flagship coupe) and the just-released LF-1 Limitless crossover concept.
We mentioned to Hunter that many of our readers often commented unfavourably towards Lexus’ design, and asked him if this divisive approach was really the right one. Note, Hunter doesn’t work strictly for Lexus, but is a Toyota executive.
“The front end has been polarising, there’s no doubt. We hear people who love it, and people who don’t,” he said. “We’re ok with that, polarisation is ok for us.”
"We went down the path a long time ago where we were trying to satisfy everyone, did a lot of conservative design, and it didn’t get people excited. They were good products but lacking emotional impact,” he added.
In other words, they were boring.
“We didn't want to do that any more,” Hunter went on the say. “Part of taking chances, stepping out and being more bold is you're going to offend a few, and some will love what you're doing.”
Probably the most controversial elements of modern Lexus products is the so-called ‘Spindle’ grille shape. Hunter says it’s here to stay.
“Spindle is our brand identity, it’s our aim to make it attractive of course, and the LF-1 is the next step in its evolution. We call it ‘architectural spindle’.
“You notice as the perimeter shape transitions up, it turns into into a pretty distinctive hood shape that has a channel, that runs all the way though the belt-line, and even the DRL runs the perimeter of the hood shape. Everything is integrated into one architectural piece."
Contrasting this, Hunter admitted some spindle grille applications delivered on mid-cycle updates of existing models developed with more toned-down noses weren’t overly resolved.
“I like to think if we can integrate the spindle beautifully into the overall design… to get away from the feeling of the grille being just applied, but instead be part of the entire construction of the overall body,” he said.
The point of all this? Lexus design doesn’t float everyone’s boat, but now you hopefully have its two-cents. Comment away.