Collection by Diana Budds

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.
For example, a designer specifies a certain stitch pattern.
Seating is a large component of car interiors and evaluated on comfort, looks, and functionality.
The seatmaker sculpts a form out out of the foam.
Here are some of the seat patterns for the various parts.
After the foam configutation is set, the seat is upholstered and assembled.
The color, texture, and grain of a piece of leather is taken into account for upholstering an interior.
Natural wood trim—as opposed to laminate—is gaining steam in luxury car interiors.
Here's an example of all various wood accents one might see within a car.