Is Auto Trim a Multidisciplinary Craft?

Published by Nadeem Muaddi on September 15th, 2011

Innovation and design website Humans Invent recently published an interesting article titled “Crafting the world’s best car interiors”. The article is about Bentley and the meticulous detail it infuses into every step of the design process. While that’s interesting, it’s not the best part of the article. What is – is how Peter Cullum-Kenyon, Bentley’s color and trim manager, describes the craft of auto upholstery.

Cullum-Kenyon says:

“Personally I think a car’s interior is the most complicated product you can design. If you think of it in terms of a house or something like that, you’ve got a TV, stereo, seating, table, you’ve got all those elements in a car but they all have to tie in, it’s not like you can just get things to kind of work, they absolutely have to slot together. Timing and making everything work for a car is just so complicated.

“It’s multi discipline, you’ve got elements of architecture, illustration, graphic design, product design, furniture design, all of those things, and for me that’s the interesting part about it. It doesn’t just stop at one discipline, it crosses many. It’s great, but it can be a burden sometimes, with one foot in design and one in engineering. But I think creative people love a challenge and that’s why we do it.” [more]

We want to hear from you: Do you agree with Cullum-Kenyon that auto upholstery is a multidisciplinary craft or would you describe it differently? Are there any disciplines, other than what he noted, that you believe are an essential part of our trade?

The Haartz Corporation

3 Responses

  1. Naseem Muaddi says:

    Auto upholstery is certianly a multi discipline trade. Nowadays with seats having heaters, airbags, lumbar, cooling, and all kinds of electric functions, being able to operate a sewing machine just doesn’t cut it. My father, who taught me the trade, always said you have to be a mechanic to be a trimmer and that is so true.

  2. Nadeem says:

    Readers left the following comments about this article on our Facebook page and another upholstery forum:

    kodydog: Lets see, an upholstery shop owner needs to know…

    How different fabrics work
    How different foam densities feel and work
    Wood working
    A little about different finishes
    How different springs work and how to attach them
    All the different aspects of sewing and machine repair
    Maintaining all your tools
    All the aspects of running a business. Salesmanship, bookkeeping, taxes, payroll, etc
    Building maintenance. Plumbing, electrical, carpentry. Even if you rent you still do a lot of it
    Grounds maintenance. I don’t hire a landscaper.
    Vehicle maintenance

    This is just a small list for furniture, throw in car and boat upholstery and it could be endless.

    The list could go on and on but besides doing all that stuff now I have to actually go do a little upholstery work.

    Everardo Leal: If you do a lot of leather work, knowledge of the leather industry is a must. From prices to textures and even production process.

    David Sellers: Of course, it takes more than sewing skills. You got to know how to do a little bit of everything in the auto trim trade.

    Recovery Room Interiors: You have to have a lot of skills, To do well

    CreativeCanvas: Ya you gotta wear a lotta hats being in any business for yourself. But ya learn as ya go. Don’t trade it for anything.

    Not sure a car interior is the ‘most complicated product you can design’. Pales in comparison to say, the artificial heart. But if he says so …

    I have a very simple list of design requirements for my vehicle(s):

    1) Should run decently and not burn, or leak, too much oil and/or gas

    2) Doors and windows should fully open & close

    3) No more than one bald tire at any given time

    4) Holes in floor large enough to accept a cigarette butt but not so big a beer bottle could pass through …


    Driving used to be what one did to get from point A to B. Nowadays thanks to marketing it’s known as a driving ‘experience’? An ‘event’ I suppose they’d call it. Dunno bout y’all but I’d prefer my driving experience to be uneventful?

    But I digress …

  3. jose mendoza says:

    I will like to atent to the next seminal

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