A unique element of the annual Lexus Design Award is the provision of personal guidance from internationally respected designers for each of the four winners. This year’s three-month-long mentorship programme began in mid-January and included exclusive sessions with solar artist Marjan van Aubel, multidisciplinary designer Joe Doucet, sound artist Yuri Suzuki, and architect Sumayya Vally.
In the few weeks before the conclusion of the mentorship programme, the winners worked individually with Sumayya Vally, who helped them focus on research and narrative, while Yuri Suzuki offered advice on design. All four winners commented positively on how the mentors’ advice was instrumental in helping them develop the potential of their concepts into successful, workable products. The following explains more about those valuable insights.
Mentorship with Sumayya Vally and Yuri Suzuki:
Winner Pavels Hedström is preparing to travel to the incredibly dry climate of Chile’s Atacama Desert for the first test of his Fog-X prototype, which collects fog to produce drinking water. The idea for Fog-X came from the simple fact that water shortage is an issue of human rights; and while many companies and industries are addressing this problem, Pavels wanted to see what he could do as an individual.
The Swedish designer commented: “A lot of things have happened in the past few weeks, but now I think we’re going to be pressing the pedal as I have a clearer direction for my work, thanks to the great support from the mentors.”
Industrial designer Jiaming Liu is a Lexus Design Award winner with his Print Clay Humidifier, a 3D-printed device made from recycled ceramic waste. Inspired by his experience living in a concrete and hard clay building as a child, Jiaming’s family used to pour water on the highly absorbent walls to create humidity during hot and dry summers. His project is now being tested for the quality of its texture and structure.
He revealed: “Sumayya Vally made many good suggestions and gave me a better direction, and Yuri Suzuki pointed out how I needed to improve my storytelling. This is necessary because this project is complicated and I need to tell the story behind it. They both gave me a lot of confidence to continue my work.”
Working together as Temporary Office, USA-based designers Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee are winners with Touch the Valley, a 3D topographic puzzle. The project came from a combination of their professional experience in making dioramas for clients and their personal interest in playing board games. Following their mentorship experience, the pair was able to give the project a new focus, directing it specifically towards visually impaired people.
They said: “The sessions with Sumayya and Yuri were like wake-up calls that reminded us of a lot of important things, and we really appreciate them. Marjan also made a lot of good suggestions, but we need time to consider making and testing variations of the puzzles. If it works well, we would like to talk about we can make the puzzles better.”
Industrial design students Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo are conducting further research into how their award-winning Zero Bag – clothing packaging that dissolves in water and acts as a detergent – might be used in real-world industries and what materials are appropriate in each case. Their work was inspired by a desire to find new ways of reducing packaging waste.
They commented: “After the session with Sumayya Vally, we are sure about the three directions of how Zero Bag can be used, but are not sure if these will persuade consumers. We would like to see how other people react, especially professionals. Yuri pointed out that it’s really important to show the identity of Zero Bag again. The concept is very different from what people are familiar with, so in the coming few weeks, we are going to work on how to inform people about its unique qualities, to give our work a strong identity.”
2023 Lexus Design Award: What happens now?
All four winners will have their prototype designs displayed for the public as part of the 2023 Milan Design Week from 17-23 April. As a key element of Lexus’s activities, the designs will be located at Superstudio Più, Via Tortona 27, Milan, Italy. The space will also be shared with Shaped by Air, a new art installation by Suchi Reddy inspired by Lexus design and craftsmanship.