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Pattern Making at GM's Technical Center

The Rewind in our July/August 2014 issue examines the Eero Saarinen–designed Styling Dome at GM's Warren, Michigan, Technical Center. On our tour of the campus, we had the rare opportunity to for a behind-the-scenes look inside pattern studio, which is located in a nearby building. There, skilled craftspeople translate designers' ideas to see if they can be replicated on a production line—an important part of the manufacturing process. Though the assembly line and mechanized production reins supreme in the automotive industry, the hands and eyes of woodworkers and upholsterers, among others, are indispensable.

The automotive design process at General Motors involves countelss talented people from ideation to production. After designers come up with ideas for interior and exterior styling—think: the shape of seats, the contouring of a console, the overall look and feel of a cabin—craftspeople create life-sized prototypes at the Interiors and Exteriors Studio. They evaluate the design to see if it's something that can be produced on a large scale given the tools and machinery that's readily available. Even the most minute stitch.

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