Japanese luxury automotive brand Lexus has named Denmark-based designer Henry Glogau as the winner of Lexus Design Award 2021 Grand Prix for his “Portable Solar Distiller” invention.

The winning project which was among 2,079 submissions from 66 countries best encompasses “Design for a Better Tomorrow” based on three key principles of Lexus – Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate.

The Portable Solar Distiller is a low-tech solution utilising sunlight to provide clean drinking water by distilling polluted water or sea water.

According to Glogau in a statement by Lexus, the design merges local resource production with community architecture, providing freshwater and a shaded gathering place. 

Image courtesy of Lexus

It has a lightweight, versatile structure configurable in different ways and materials that adapt to local environments and user needs.

Glogau is one of the six global finalists who were mentored and guided by four world-class creators Joe Doucet, Sabine Marcelis, Mariam Kamara, and Sputniko! towards refining their proposals.

He expressed his heartfelt gratitude for the unexpected win as this year’s Grand Prix winner and extended appreciation to the judges, mentors as well as Lexus for the experience.

“When you look at the level and quality of the finalists and their projects and the progress that has been made throughout, any one of us could have been the winner this year,” said the New Zealander.

Henry Glogau, the winner of Lexus Design Award 2021 Grand Prix. Image courtesy of Lexus

For him, the mentors’ expertise in a variety of fields strengthened not only their designs but also to individual designers, cherishing the thought-provoking questions and conversations they had.

“Lastly, a massive thank you to Lexus. Being part of a prestigious award like this with a company that is truly passionate about Design for a Better Tomorrow, and which gives up-and-coming designers a platform and solid foundation to build their design futures on is incredible,” he concluded.

For the selection of qualifiers, panel judges looked for innovative ideas that embodied the key principles with an emphasis on design that leads to a better tomorrow.

Image courtesy of Lexus

Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design Simon Humphries, who is also one of the judges, said that the winning idea is a testament to Glogau’s real life understanding and anticipation of what the target customer needed.

“The answer was much more than a rational “machine” to provide drinking water. Rather, it evolved to become something that could potentially strengthen communities, bring people together, yet still retain the flexibility for them to adapt it further to better their lives,” he said.

Meanwhile for Sputniko!, one of the mentors for the competition, she was impressed with how the finalists managed to absorb the advice from mentors to evolve their projects in meaningful directions with great speed.

Image courtesy of Lexus
Image courtesy of Lexus

“Another aspect I loved about mentoring the finalists’ projects was the fact that all teams envisioned to tackle extremely pressing, large-scale issues through their design, ranging from water scarcity, energy efficiency, plastic pollution, and mental health issues during the pandemic,” she said.

The remaining five finalists were Kenji Abe from Japan, Gayle Lee & Jessica Vea from New Zealand, Alina Holovatiuk from Ukraine, Irmandy Wicaksono from Indonesia and Intsui Design from China.

On his part, Indonesian finalist Irmandy Wicaksono who is an electrical and textile engineer and designer, said that it was an incredible and fulfilling journey as he has learned a lot during the process.

Image courtesy of Lexus

“With diverse skill-sets and backgrounds, the mentors were committed to supporting the finalists along the way, strengthening our concepts, and realizing our prototypes,” said the PhD student.

Irmandy’s entry was entitled KnitX, a set of functional textiles that have been computationally integrated with digital knitting. The set comprises a musical keyboard and an interactive carpet that provides intuitive interphase between dance and music.

Launched in 2013, the Lexus Design Award is an international competition for up-and-coming creators from around the world.

The Award seeks to contribute to society by supporting designers and creators whose work shows the potential to shape a better future.



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