An in-depth look at The Lexus Design Award and Event, a fount of light and creativity

The Lexus Design Award and Event

My first stop during Milan Design Week is the Lexus Design Award and Event which is located in La Triennale di Milano, a beautiful design museum, which I can say is fitting after touring the exhibit. The event is simply titled YET, a philosophy at the heart of Lexus’ creative mindset.

When you enter the space, you’re greeted by a series of three glass pillars that radiate light. They were created in collaboration with Neri Oxman, an architect, designer, and professor at the MIT Media Lab alongside The Mediated Matter group, whose focus is on “research at the intersection of computational design, digital fabrication, materials science and synthetic biology and apply that knowledge to design across scales from the micro scale to the building scale.” Sounds pretty epic, right?

Glass is thought to be invented over 4,000 years ago in Mesopotamia and over the years we’ve found many ways to shape it, be it thrown glass blowing or molding. What Neri and the Mediated Matter group asked is, “How do you achieve variation in mechanical production? And how do you create new technology that controls the interior and exterior textures?” Over 24 months they’ve worked to create 3D glass printing technology that could answer these very questions.

What’s so magical about these constructs is how the light refracts through them, producing what are called “caustics,” which are the light rays reflected or refracted by a curved surface or object. These caustics play across the ground and walls creating the feeling that you’re underwater.

The Lexus Design Award and Event

As you continue to explore the space you encounter the four Lexus Design Award finalists, who’s work will be judged with one being crowned the winner. Their ideas are extremely varied and unique, each offering creative concepts with unusual elements and whimsy. Lexus’ YET philosophy says “Don’t compromise, harmonize”—and each of these concepts do exactly that.

This Hiroto Yoshizoe concept is titled Pixel. His work is about displaying the contrasting elements of light and shadow as expressed by metal “pixels” that can be stacked together into any shape.

I have aimed to design between the Light and Shadow, believing that when designing the borderline between the two contrasting elements, they can resonate with each other to move the viewer. Through this, you will find that in fact the contrasts are intertwined with each other. Light and Shadow, inside and outside, one side and another this screen existing between these two contrasts can be a device for dividing, transforming and ‘connecting’ at the same time.

This Jia Wu’ concept, titled Player’s Pflute. (Yes, that’s spelled correctly.) Her pieces are focused on the idea of turning food into a playable, musical instrument with the help of modular plastic pieces you can plug into a vegetable.

By encouraging improvisation while playing, this toy helps a child experience music as a familiar and enjoyable activity. This creative musician kit consists of different mouthpieces, hole punchers and connectors. Simply by connecting them with various everyday objects, children can assemble their very own instruments and explore different musical tones.

This is Jessica Fügler’s Structural Color – Static Yet Changing concept which is a rug that allows the user to modify the rug’s color and pattern thanks to multi-colored beads.

Static Yet Changing is a rug design that has the ability to change with the need of the user. The ever-changing function and aesthetics of the piece addresses the idea of designing for longevity, crating products that evolve over time.

Finally, Ahran Won’s concept focused on the idea of meaningful ownership. What do you really need in your life? What objects are actually necessary to live? Her capsule packs all of your life’s must-have objects into one tidy package.

A capsule for mobile living, Having nothing YET Everything.

What is the meaning of objects in our lives? The moving capsule enables simple and minimalist living through its mobility and functionality. (One object has more than one function; like a smart phone, the capsule goes beyond its function as just a container).

Rounding out the exhibit is the ethereal, light projected Lexus UX concept which floats around you as you walk through as well as a retrospective of the past 9 years of Lexus at Milan Design Week, told through 24 frames at a time.

Overall, the way I’d describe Lexus’ Design Week showing as a celebration of industrial design through the Lexus’ lens. The works spark your imagination and immerse you in a world of next-level creativity.

April 4, 2017 / By

Mount Kimbie and James Blake release new video for “We Go Home Together”

Mount Kimbie and James Blake release new video for 'We Go Home Together"

It’s been nearly four years since Mount Kimbie released their last record Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, now they’re back with a new track/video featuring vocals from none other than James Blake. The song has a definite James Blake-yness to it, backed by a really great organ melody that shifts into a more minimal, gospel vibe. It feels like it’s meant to be a preview of something much bigger as the Mount Kimbie boys are known for their beats and this doesn’t quite hit that mark. Time will tell!

April 4, 2017 / By

The five hidden beauties of Milan

I’m here in Milan for the Lexus Design Award and Event and Milan Design Week and though it’s only been a day and a half I’ve done some serious exploring so far. The city of Milan is a vibrant, bustling city full of sites and sounds and it’s a perfect location for one of the biggest design events in the world. Here are some of the things I’ve come across so far but I promise there will be lots more coverage over the next week.

Milan Design Week Preview
I’ll be doing a lot of posts over the following week around MDW but I was able to get a sneak peek at Henry Wilson’s useful objects at Aesop Brera and they’re gorgeous. Henry is experimenting with a 6000 year old casting process, making a series of bronze lamps and vessels that were absolutely stunning.

Lexus Design Award

Lexus Design Award and Event
As a part of Design Week the first thing I’ll be visiting is the Lexus Design Award and Event space at the La Triennale di Milano. There’s incredible 3D printed glass pieces by Neri Oxman, a Static YET Dynamic installation which looks ethereal and magical, and the Lexus Design Award prototype winners who’s inventive work is being exhibited.

The Typography
Seriously though, everywhere you look the typography game is strong here in Milan. There’s a lot of classic 60’s and 70’s overtones that frame the doorways of so many businesses that you simply can’t miss it. It’s type porn for days out here.

The Hidden Dan Flavin in a Church
This one is kinda crazy and I love it. In 1996, Dan flavin was asked by Italian priest Giulio Greco to create an installation in the Chiesa Rossa in Milan. The installation is still in place and running (I took the photo above) and I can tell you right now that the church, which is beautiful on it’s own, is totally augmented by the lights that Mr. Flavin installed. If you’re in Milan you MUST go see this.

The Architecture
I mean, this shouldn’t really come as a surprise at all, but the buildings in Milan are as eclectic as you can get. I’ve seen brutalism, modernism, neo-classicism… you name it, it’s here. One of the coolest things I’ve seen multiple times now is buildings with INTENSE plant coverage, like the one above. I call it out because I’ve seen so many examples in a day and half, and hopefully I run across more of this as I continue to explore.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for daily updates and be sure to check out my Instagram Stories for the behind the scenes action.

April 2, 2017 / By

10 years later

As I write this I’m riding on a train in the middle of Italy, headed to Milan for a week of design and inspiration. If you had asked me “where do you think you’ll be in 10 years?,” I wouldn’t have guessed this.

Today is the 10th anniversary of The Fox Is Black, formerly Kitsune Noir (r.i.p.) and no, this isn’t a practical joke. It’s overwhelming to think of the last 10 years and everything that’s transpired. Starting this blog has allowed me to visit amazing places, meet lifelong friends, and set me down a path of being a creative director for The Walt Disney Company.

Now I’ve been thinking about what’s next for the site. My big goal is to bring back The Desktop Wallpaper Project and connect with talented creators internationally. Plus I get more and more people writing me asking if I’ll bring it back, so I think it’s time. I’m also writing more stories on the site, I went back and did some UI clean up, though I still find Instagram and Instagram Stories to be the most interesting way of sharing.

Finally, just want to say thanks to everyone who’s helped or supported me over the years. A decade is a long time and I feel truly lucky to have been able to enjoy this crazy ride.

Cheers to another 10!

April 1, 2017 / By

Anicorn’s new watch collaboration highlights the ephemerality of time

Anicorn 'Hidden Time' watch

As I mentioned in my previous post, gradients are quite the thing these days. It was then funny to see this Kickstarter project pop into my inbox, which furthered confirmed my point. Anicorn, a Hong Kong based watchmaker, has a teamed up with Seoul based industrial designer Jiwoong Jung to create Hidden Time, a watch face that slowly reveals the hours of the day. The designer describes his concept as such:

“My research on how to naturally pass time began with how hiding occurs in nature, which led me to one of the best known examples––the chameleon’s protective color. Their defense mechanism is a kind of optical illusion, but a simple and effective way to have two things together naturally when superimposed.”

I like this watch for a few reasons. First, I think it’s smart that you can easily tell the hour because the white numerals really pop off of the dark gradient color. It’s really nice that it comes in three different finishes, that rose gold is precious, but honestly I’d still be a stereotypical designer and go all black. Finally, the price point is just right, coming in around $150.

You can support Anicorn’s project by clicking here.

Anicorn 'Hidden Time' watch

Anicorn 'Hidden Time' watch

Anicorn 'Hidden Time' watch

Anicorn 'Hidden Time' watch

March 23, 2017 / By

Fantastically colored embroidered gradients by Zoe Gilbertson

Gradients are quite “in” these days as they’re able to bring a feeling of movement and a depth of color that’s always attractive. How a gradient is applied is where things can get interesting, as is the case with the work of Zoe Gilbertson. Her medium is needlepoint which allows her to create abstract artwork that bridges the hand stitched with the digital.

If you’d like to get a piece for yourself, check out her shop.

Zoe Gilbertson - Embroidered gradient

Zoe Gilbertson - Embroidered gradient

Zoe Gilbertson - Embroidered gradient

Zoe Gilbertson - Embroidered gradient

Zoe Gilbertson - Embroidered gradient

March 20, 2017 / By

‘Analogue Loaders’ materializes our digital waiting times

Analogue Loaders

Raphael Vangelis, a London based director, created this super inventive video titled Analogue Loaders which brings the digital concept of waiting into a fantastic physical world. His reason for creating it? He feels like it’s how he spends his life.

This short film is my animated autobiography. I spend most of my life swearing at the computer because it’s crashed or isn’t working. Here, well known digital symbols are turned into something analogue and playful. The result is an homage to all the lost time we collectively spend in digital limbo in the hopes of sudden development on our screen.

There’s also a behind-the-scenes look at how he and his team made the video, which was a much more arduous process than I would have imagined. A majority of the elements were 3D printed, assembled, captured via stop-motion and then all sorts of digital video apps to create that handmade vibe of the video. I’m so curious to know just how long this video took to make. I feel like it had to take months, right? I think it was worth the effort but I personally wouldn’t have the patience to make something like this.

March 20, 2017 / By