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