Design Review: Infiniti Etherea concept
by Owen Ready    11 Jul 2011
Obligatory pillarless doors give access to spacious cabin. Click for larger images
Traditional double wave IP is broken by horizontal orientation
Door cards are inspired by traditional Japanese bamboo fences. Backlighting is in the corporate Infiniti Violet
Analogue tacho appears to sit on a pool of water, its ripples creating the concentric digital dials

Move around to its rear three-quarters and the beltline disappears around an imaginary corner, defining a long hood that does not exist. Meanwhile the kinked C-pillar suggests extreme tumblehome from some angles yet other betray this visual trick.

Swing open the obligatory pillarless suicide doors and the spaciousness that's liberated by making the most of the FF platform, as Nakajima-san alluded to is evident but, as he explains, "at the same time [we wanted to] convey the 'compartment' philosophy of our interiors, which we call the double wave."

Seats are piped with Kumihmio, a rope worn around the waist of a kimono
Solid billet gear shift continues Infiniti's 'preservation of physical luxury'.
Infotainment screen sits above trim strip which showcases a new way of layering traditional Japanese decorative paper, called Kasane-Washi
Compartmentalised cabin is most apparent in the rear

Unlike the rest of the Inifiniti range, however, the Ehterea's 'double wave' is broken by the horizontal IP orientation, emphasized by the aluminum trim strip which showcases a new way of layering traditional Japanese decorative paper, called Kasane-Washi, which enhances its visual texture. As Nakajima attests, "what we wanted to do is enhance our interior finisher material expression and our perception was that through this proposal we could do that."

The Etherea's distinctive colorway, also splits the cabin horizontally. "Darker upper cabin trim avoids reflections, but also expresses the double-wave theme," says Nakajima-san. "A very slight hint of pink has been applied to the exterior color and to the seats because it was presented at the Geneva motor show in the spring, which is the season for cherry blossoms in Japan." Nissan's designers have incorporated this theme while introducing a more horizontal - and distinctly front-wheel drive - IP orientation in order to emphasize the extra space created by its mechanical layout.

Infiniti Violet - the brand's theme color - is used throughout the Etherea's interior lighting. "It is a color of elegance and class and was limited for the use of noble people in the old days," explains Nakajima. "The reason we applied lighting to the decoration was to create a distinctive interior ambience." The backlighting unusually extends to the illuminated door cards, which are inspired by traditional 'Inuyarai' Japanese bamboo fences. They give the interior a unique identity that blends traditional Japanese with up-to-date technology.

This theme can also be seen in the instrumentation, where the Etherea's analogue tachometer appears to sit on a pool of (digital) water, its ripples - 'Hamon' in Japanese - form the boundaries of the concentric digital gauges. This is echoed in the center console-mounted, solid billet gear selector continues the 'preservation of physical luxury'.

And Infiniti's vision of luxury is a compelling one - understated, characterful and truly different to the route its rivals are taking.

Overall the Etherea is a truly successful concept car from Nissan's luxury offshoot. The Essence was a watershed, marking it out as a brand that had a direction and knew how to head there. The Etherea demonstrates that these green shoots are growing into a nicely maturing, distinctive aesthetic.

Read the full interior design story in the latest edition of Interior Motives magazine

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