The soft trim work at Seat is led by the company’s in-house tailor, Nick Allen, who was previously a soft trim engineer at McLaren, Jaguar and Bentley.
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.
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.
For each new Ibiza model Nick created up to thirty different variations for each seat, 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 Km of thread are used every year by Nick when creating his designs. His 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 color from among 250 spools of up to 100 different colors.
“Colours make a world of difference. Each car has its own personality and its own colour palette.” Nick explains. “For example, many people link greens and light browns with crossovers, dark browns to more classic family cars, and black and red to speed.”
Speaking about what are the best ingredients for practicing his profession the best way possible, Nick explains: “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!”