Japanese luxury automobile brand Lexus has unveiled the refined proposals of six finalists for its Lexus Design Award 2021, a global competition recognised for nurturing the next generation of creatives.

They were selected by the judging panel from 2,079 submissions from 66 countries globally. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

In selecting this year’s finalists, the judges looked for innovative ideas that embodied the three key principles of the Lexus brand: “Anticipate, Innovate and Engage” with an emphasis on design that leads to a better tomorrow.

They have been mentored by design experts Joe Doucet, Sabine Marcelis,  Mariam Kamara, and Sputniko!, who helped bring each proposal to fruition with the intent of leading to a  Better Tomorrow.  

Mentorship is a uniquely attractive core element of the Lexus Design Award. The top six were given the irreplaceable once-in-a-lifetime experience of being mentored directly by world-class creators. 

Mentors provide diverse perspectives and help finalists refine their ideas through continued discussion. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

Nurtured by the synergy of the finalists’ insatiable curiosity and the mentors’ passion, each idea has evolved into an even more innovative proposal within the limited period of about three months. 

Mentor Mariam Kamara said that she was impressed by the amount of work the finalists have been able to do in such a short time. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

“They have really taken the advice and feedback we have given them in their stride and showed a lot of passion and dedication into pushing their ideas to be all that they can be,” she said.

“It is obvious they care about the effect and impact their works can have, and it definitely comes across. The deep level of compassion they all show is absolutely commendable. I’m really staggered by everything they’ve been able to achieve.” 

Lexus Design Award 2021 Finalists

Image courtesy of Lexus

CY-BO by Kenji Abe (Japan)

CY-BO is a new form of cytologically inspired packaging material that can transform into various shapes by combining the pieces together. Infinitely reusable and rearrangeable, it can be converted into all manner of products for different applications depending on the ideas of the user.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Kenji Abe is a graduate of the Tama Art University Product Design  Department, who now works as a product designer based in Tokyo. While designing imaging products professionally, he also pursues personal design activities. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

He is curious about creating a better tomorrow for humans, nature, animals, and the earth, and wishes to propose beautiful solutions to the problems we face.

Heartfelt by Gayle Lee and Jessica Vea (New Zealand & Tonga, based in New Zealand)

Heartfelt explores what ‘being present’ might look like during the age of a  pandemic, and seeks to assist with the anxiety and emotional stresses of being in isolation. The device reflects the heartbeat of your loved one and promotes psychological support and personal connection.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Gayle Lee and Jessica Vea are recent Bachelor of Creative Technologies graduates from Auckland University of Technology. They are passionate about creating meaningful products that help others and promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between different fields and practices. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

Moreover, they are both hoping to start their Master of Creative Technologies degrees in 2021.

InTempo by Alina Holovatiuk (Ukraine)

Image courtesy of Lexus

InTempo is an app and phone cover that aids people facing emotional stress  (e.g. panic attacks, sociophobia) in public spaces or during public actions.  Touching spots on the phone cover in time with music may help people calm themselves down.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Alina Holovatiuk is a young architect from Kyiv, Ukraine. She is currently continuing her studies and research at Kyiv National University of  Construction and Architecture in the Information Technologies in  Architecture Department. Her approach to design is based on special attention to human emotions and their perception of the world.

KnitX by Irmandy Wicaksono (Indonesia, based in USA) 

Image courtesy of Lexus

KnitX explores the boundaries between electronics, textiles, and musical interfaces, imbuing interactivity to everyday fabrics. The result is a musical cloth that responds to tactile and proxemic gestures and an interactive carpet that evokes the bi-directionality between dance and music.

Irmandy Wicaksono is an electrical and textile engineer and designer. He is currently a Ph.D. student in the Responsive Environments, MIT Media Lab.  

Image courtesy of Lexus

His research focuses on developing soft and textile-based electronics for various applications ranging from health and well-being, human-computer interaction to interactive media and environments.

Portable Solar Distiller by Henry Glogau (Dual New Zealand & Austria, based in Denmark)

Image courtesy of Lexus

A low-tech solution utilising sunlight to distill polluted and seawater. The portable design merges local resource production with community architecture, providing fresh water and a shaded gathering place. A  lightweight, versatile structure configurable in different ways and materials,  adapting to local environments and user needs.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Henry Glogau is a New Zealander who recently graduated from the Royal  Danish Academy in Copenhagen, Denmark. His master’s degree specialised in Architecture and Extreme Environments, where he explored present and future global challenges in expeditions to diverse locations. Henry is now working as an Architect at GXN, the green innovation unit of 3XN.

Terracotta Valley Wind by Intsui Design (China, based in Japan)

A terracotta evaporative cooling system that cools subway stations during summer and reduces energy consumption. Terracotta is an inexpensive and accessible clay material. Its porous nature allows water to quickly evaporate while utilizing the unused wind resource in subway stations,  maximizing the value of train-induced wind.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Intsui Design is a design group based in Tokyoconsisting of Chenkai Guo, Baohua Sheng, Yilei Lyu, Yu Zhang, who are currently pursuing Masters degrees at Tama Art University’s Integrated Design department. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

The group explores the relationship between subconscious human behaviours and design. Their design practice focuses on people’s intuition and natural responses to objects and the environment.

The six finalists will present their final proposals to a jury of renowned design leaders; Paola Antonelli, Dong  Gong, Greg Lynn and Simon Humphries. One Grand Prix-winning design will be announced on 27 April, marking the climax of this edition of the Lexus Design Award.  – Azrina Zin

This article was first published on 17 April, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 137

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