Lexus Design Award Finalists Present Innovations for a Better Tomorrow

29 January 2020

Lexus has today announced the six finalists in the Lexus Design Award 2020. Their innovative ideas range from a smart survival pack for use in flash floods and a sewing machine designed for visually impaired people, to a project to create sustainable communities in developing countries.

The six were chosen from a record 2,072 submissions received from designers in 79 countries around the world. They have been mentored by a team of world-renowned designer leaders and are receiving funding of up to 3 million yen (more than £21,000) to develop their concepts into design prototypes.

Details of each finalist and their concept are provided below.

Now in its eighth year, the Lexus Design Award is an international platform for young creators to demonstrate and develop their talents. Selection of the finalists was based on their expression of three principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate, with an emphasis on design that leads to a better tomorrow.

Award Judge John Maeda said: “This year’s Lexus Design Award finalists speak to two main themes: consciousness and the environment. These are increasingly relevant as technological progress impacts our world. As design projects, they go beyond just asking questions to provide concrete answers based on innovative reasoning and practised opinions on engineering.

In January the finalists travelled to Intersect by Lexus NYC, the brand’s lifestyle space in New York City, for a workshop where they engaged with four acclaimed design mentors: Joe Doucet, Bethan Gray, Philippe Malouin and Shoehi Shigematsu, who each offered their own distinctive wisdom and expertise.

The finalists’ completed prototypes will be presented to the world this summer via a digital only event (details to be confirmed).

Lexus Design Award 2020 finalists

Bio Scales, by Sutherlin Santo (USA)

Bio Scales are biopolymer filters made from natural, ecologically engaged materials that can be used to remove carbon and other harmful compounds from the air. The modular, 3D printed system is reconfigurable and adaptable, and can provide improved air quality in any living space.

Paul and Garrett Sutherlin Santo are designers from downtown Los Angeles. Their work seeks to project a future where design has a symmetrical connection to nature and technology by exploring the relationship of emerging digital processes, ecologically engaged materials and traditional craft.

Feltscape, by Théophile Peju (France) and Salvatore Cicero (Italy)

Feltscape is a breathing cloud made from felt and thermoplastic that captures noise and customises interior acoustic and lighting qualities. It is the result of an innovative fabrication process that combines haute couture techniques and robotic additive manufacturing.

Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero are architectural designers based in London. They graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL, where they researched textile composite materials. Their design approach, using hands-on experience, combines traditional craftsmanship and innovative robotic fabrication techniques.

Flash Pak, by Yaokun Wu (China)

Flash Pak is a smart survival apparatus like a life jacket that can guide students to safety in flash floods using a haptic navigation system with LED lights. It can be inflated to form a stand-alone flotation device, but can also be strapped to other Flash Paks to keep a group together, like a raft.

Yaokun Wu is an industrial design student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He wants to use design to help people who need it most. He believes design is everywhere, but only that which brings people warmth will never be forgotten.

Lick, by Irina Samoilova (Russia)

Lick is a portable body cleaner that can help people who are unable to use a bath. The device has a surface like a cat’s tongue and works in a similar way to how cats clean their bodies of impurities.

Irina Samoilova is a product and furniture designer, currently studying for a master’s degree in the furniture design department of the Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Design and Applied Art. Before starting a new design she first studies animal shapes and how such forms work in nature.

Open Source Communities, by BellTower (Kenya)

Open Source Communities is a proposal outlining an efficient way of designing communities in developing countries using smart open-source plans. The designers try to see how these designs might be refined for adaptability to create sustainable, connected homes.

BellTower (John Brian Kamau, Joyce Wairimu Gachiri, Ian Githegi Kamau, Esther Wanjiku Kamau and Arvin Booker Kamau) was established in 2014 with the vision of using open-source systems and technologies to solve problems. The group came together to create a team with skills in risk management, information technology, project management and strategy to build an open-source community model for personal, corporate and industrial needs.

Pursewit, by Aqsa Ajmal (Pakistan)

Pursewit has a sleek design that encourages people to sew. Its simplified design makes operation more intuitive, tactile and easier for people with visual impairment.

Aqsa Ajmal is an industrial designer and a graduate of Pakistan’s National University of Sciences and Technology. She is steered by her belief in design as a problem-solving tool, devising relationships between ideas and reality. Through her interaction and first-hand experiments in design, she looks forward to improving connections between people and products.

About the Lexus Design Award

First launched in 2013, the Lexus Design Award is an international design competition that targets up-and-coming creators from around the world. The award seeks to foster the growth of ideas that contribute to society by supporting designers and creators whose works can help to shape a better future. It provides a unique opportunity for each finalist to work with a globally recognised designer as a mentor to create prototypes of their designs, and then exhibit them at one of the design calendar’s most important events.


Note to editors: biographies the Lexus Design Award judges and mentors are available here

Further information is available at, #Lexus Design Award.


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Lexus Design Award Finalists Present Innovations for a Better Tomorrow


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