SEAT: THE ART OF CRAFT
Feb 7, 2018
Fashion on wheels
- British master tailor Nick Allen creates interiors for new models by hand
- Uses 30 km of thread every year on the stitching for seats, steering wheels and gearknobs
- Colour customisation now a huge part of interior design
There are over 30 kilometres of thread each year that go into creating the interior of every new SEAT. Imagine that – enough stitching to reach from the centre of London to the perimeter of the M25, or from Birmingham to Coventry and back, all in the pursuit of making the latest car interiors a true work of art.
But you wouldn’t expect anything less from SEAT’s in-house tailor, Nick Allen. He was previously a soft trim engineer at McLaren, Jaguar and Bentley, brands for whom excellence is a customer expectation.
Nick’s job begins with something as simple as marking, cutting and shaping a piece of leather, selecting a thread to complement its hue and then stitching with great care. These small steps begin the process of creating the interior of a new production SEAT; blending the functional and aesthetic together to create an environment that is welcoming and practical.
The home of SEAT in Martorell is one of the world’s most technologically advanced car production facilties, but creating the perfect 21st Century car requires more cutting-edge technology; it also demands the finest designs created with traditional techniques that have stood the test of time.
While around the world the final stitches are being added to the fashion collections that will be showcased on catwalks in New York, London, Milan or Paris, at the SEAT Design Centre British master tailor Nick Allen is fastidiously piecing together fabrics, colours and stitching to create the beautifully rendered cabins on the latest production models.
-Experience is everything: Nick Allen has 35 years of experience and takes huge pride in his working methods. “I’ve been creating car interiors by hand since I was 16”, he explains. “It’s a handmade craft, there’s no computers involved, there’s no real big technology involved. For my profession of trimming, three things are really, really needed: one is to work really well with your hands, two is have a good eye and three is lots of patience” He designs patterns in his atelier, striving to come up with the best finishes for the seats, just as a high fashion designer would do.
-30 styles created for every seat: With more choice than ever before when it comes to trim levels and specification, distinctive grading and individuality is essential for every version. Nick created up to thirty different variations for each seat of the new SEAT Ibiza model, performing tests on the upholstery and materials two years before vehicle production began. During the testing stage, he is also in charge of shaping the cushion foam to ensure the seats are as comfortable as possible for all occupants.
-30 kilometres of thread every year: 30,000 metres of thread are used every year by Nick when creating his designs. His finely-honed skills allow him to sew all the steering wheels by hand with the help of a curved needle, using the German knot stitch which leaves the most exposed thread. He chooses the thickness and colour from among 250 spools of up to 100 different colours.
-Colours to suit every taste: “Colours make a world of difference. Each car has its own personality and its own colour palette.” Nick explains that many customers unconsciously also associate colours with vehicle types and characteristics. “For example, many people link greens and light browns with crossovers, dark browns to more classic family cars, and black and red to speed.”
-Nick’s ‘perfect recipe’: Even though SEAT’s car tailor will never reveal his secrets, a few things he does share with us are the best ingredients for practicing his profession the best way possible: “Have a good eye for detail, good hands...and above all, a lot of patience. The rest comes from experience”. And his own catchphrase is “Don’t rush it!”
SEAT is the only company that designs, develops, manufactures and markets cars in Spain. A member of the Volkswagen Group, the multinational has its headquarters in Martorell (Barcelona), exporting 80% of its vehicles, and is present in over 80 countries through a network of 1,700 dealerships. In 2017, SEAT achieved worldwide sales of nearly 470,000 vehicles.
The SEAT Group employs close to 14,700 professionals at its three production centres – Barcelona, El Prat de Llobregat and Martorell, where it manufactures the highly successful Ibiza, Leon and Arona. Additionally, the company produces the Ateca and the Toledo in the Czech Republic, the Alhambra in Portugal and the Mii in Slovakia.
The multinational has a Technical Centre, which operates as a knowledge hub that brings together 1,000 engineers who are focussed on developing innovation for Spain’s largest industrial investor in R&D. SEAT already features the latest connectivity technology in its vehicle range and is currently engaged in the company’s global digitalisation process to promote the mobility of the future.
Documents Add all files
- doc 176.00 KB The atelier of cars V4