Mentors Announced for 2021 Lexus Design Award

18 August 2020

Three top representatives from the world of design and architecture will be mentors for the 2021 Lexus Design Award, the international design competition which is currently accepting submissions from the world’s emerging designers. Architect Mariam Kamara and designer Sabine Marcelis join as first-time mentors, along with designer/inventor Joe Doucet who returns for his second year. A fourth mentor will be announced this autumn.

The Lexus Design Award is based on three key judging criteria: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate for a better tomorrow. Six finalists are selected from the worldwide entries to receive mentoring by world-class creators at the forefront of their fields. Beginning with a direct mentoring workshop, the programme also provides months of ongoing mentorship during prototype production, until final presentation for the award’s Grand Prix judging.

With their diverse backgrounds and disciplines, the 2021 mentors will give the programme finalists valuable advice and fresh perspectives, which will help with their chosen designs:

  • Nigerian architect Mariam Kamara creates spaces that elevate, dignify and provide a better quality of life in her projects worldwide
  • Sabine Marcelis, based in the Netherlands, works in material, installation and object design, seeking magical moments to create unexpected experiences
  • Joe Doucet, who is a designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director, focuses on finding solutions for daily societal challenges in product, furniture, environment and technology design.

Sabine Marcelis said: “As a new member of the mentor team, I am very excited to see the ideas of our future generation of designers. Now more than ever, innovative design-led ideas will play an important role in shaping our future. I cannot wait to guide and help shape and realise these ideas with them, putting a focus on sustainable production processes and innovative and environmentally friendly material choices. Now is a time to think radically, so I am hoping the submitted projects will do exactly that.”

The six finalists selected by the judging panel will bring their ideas to life as prototypes, with support from their mentors, and will exhibit and present their work at Milan Design Week in April 2021. On-site presentations and judging will culminate in the announcement of the Grand Prix winner.

Paola Antonelli, a curator at MoMA New York and a design authority who has served on the Lexus Design Award jury since the award’s inception, and Simon Humphries, Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design, Lexus International, will continue as judges for the 2021 award.The final roster of judges and mentors will be announced this autumn.

The Lexus Design Award 2021 is open for entries until 11 October; the Lexus Design Award 2020 will conclude with the Grand Prix Winner announcement on 1 September.

For more information on Lexus Design Award 2021, please visit

Official Hashtag: #LexusDesignAward


APPLICATION PERIOD 30 June – 11 October, 2020

□         Do the concept and design anticipate not only the needs of the user experience, but also the needs of society?

□        INNOVATE

□         Does the design demonstrate new thinking and originality in its proposal and execution?

□        CAPTIVATE

□         Is the design intriguing and compelling when in concept and execution?

JUDGES Paola Antonellia, Senior Curator at MoMA, NY

Simon Humphries, Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design

Two additional judges will be announced this autumn.

MENTORS Joe Doucet, Founder, Joe Doucet x Partners

Mariam Kamara, Principal Architect, atelier masōmī

Sabine Marcelis, Designer/Founder, Studio Sabine Marcelis

A fourth mentor will be announced this autumn.

AWARD CATEGORIES ●       One Grand Prix winner (selected from the six finalists)

●       Six Finalists

PRIZES/BENEFITS •   Six finalists invited to the mentorship — a session with mentors from diverse fields who provide guidance to help elevate prototype design.

•   Six finalists invited to Milan Design Week 2021*.

•   Six prototypes to be exhibited at the Lexus exhibition space during Milan Design Week 2021**.

•   Six finalists to receive up to 3 million JPY (more than £21,000) each, to cover prototype production costs. Prototypes are to be produced between January and March 2021.

 *Note: Only one person per entry is invited, regardless of individual or group submission.

**Subject to change. See Official Rules for more details.

ORGANISER Lexus International
APPLICATION PROCESS For more information, visit



First launched in 2013, the Lexus Design Award is an international design competition that targets emerging designers 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 design mentor to create prototypes of their designs, and then exhibit them at one of the design calendar’s most significant events.

Lexus Design Award 2021 Mentors

Joe Doucet, founder Joe Doucet x Partners

A designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director, Joe Doucet is one of the most sought-after creative talents working in America today. His work combines function and visual appeal while conveying layers of meaning and message. Doucet believes that design and, more importantly, a designer’s thought process, can play a larger role in innovation and problem solving, as well as aesthetics. He currently holds numerous patents for his designs and inventions.

Doucet’s work has been exhibited globally and has received numerous international awards, including a World Technology Award for Design Innovation and multiple Good Design Awards. Doucet was named the 2017 Winner of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award as Product Designer – the highest honour in his field. He was also a 2019 finalist in Dezeen’s Designer of the Year, and a recipient of Fast Company’s Most Important Design Companies of 2019.


Mariam Kamara, Principal Architect, Atelier Masomi

Mariam Kamara is a Nigerian architect. In 2014, she founded atelier masōmī, an architecture and research firm, tackling a wide variety of public, cultural, residential, commercial and urban design projects. These include The Religious-Secular Complex of Dandaji in Niger, a collaborative cultural project with Studio Chahar, which won the 2017 Gold LafargeHolcim Award for Africa and Middle East, and the 2018 Silver Global LafargeHolcim Award for Sustainable Architecture. Kamara served as Adjunct Associate Professor at Brown University and is a recurring Architecture Critic at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD)

Kamara’s work is guided by the belief that architects have an important role to play in thinking spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify, and provide a better quality of life. Since 2018, Kamara has been Sir David Adjaye’s protégé under the Rolex Mentor Protégé programme and is a 2019 Laureate of the Price Claus Award, recognising the positive impact creatives have on their societies.


Sabine Marcelis, Designer/Founder Studio Sabine Marcelis

Sabine Marcelis is a Dutch designer who runs her practice from Rotterdam. After graduating from the Design Academy of Eindhoven in 2011, Marcelis began working as an independent designer in the fields of product, installation and spacial design, with a strong focus on materials. Her work is characterised by pure forms which highlight material properties.

Marcelis applies a strong aesthetic point of view to her collaborations with industry specialists. This method of working allows her to intervene in the manufacturing process, using material research and experimentation to achieve new and surprising visual effects for projects both showcased in museums and commissioned by commercial clients and fashion houses.

Sabine won the prestigious Wallpaper* awards Designer of the Year 2020, The Elle Deco International 2019 Young Designer of the Year award and was named the GQ 2019 International Artist of the Year.

Lexus Design Award 2021 panel of judges

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator for the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA, NY

Paola Antonelli is Senior Curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, as well as MoMA’s founding Director of Research and Development. Her goal is to promote design’s understanding, until its positive influence on the world is universally acknowledged. Her work investigates design’s impact on everyday experience, often including overlooked objects and practices, and combining design, architecture, art, science, and technology.

She has curated shows, written books, lectured worldwide, and taught in several schools, including Harvard and UCLA. Following the XXII Triennale di Milano – her 2019 Broken Nature, devoted to the idea of restorative design – she has opened the exhibition Material Ecology at MoMA, on the work of architect Neri Oxman. She is currently working on several new sessions of her MoMA R&D Salons; and on the Instagram series @design.emergency – conceived with design critic Alice Rawsthorn – devoted to the role of design in the Covid-19 pandemic.


Simon Humphries, Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design

Simon Humphries is Head of Toyota and Lexus Global Design. He was appointed to oversee design for both brands in 2018.  As Head of Lexus Global Design Humphries seeks to define Lexus’s unique values in the form of a brand philosophy, incorporating a clear cultural reference to Lexus’s Japanese heritage and building a design direction that is relevant to drivers around the world.

Humphries joined the company in 1994. His many roles in leadership and advanced design include defining the signature spindle grille that has become an icon for the Lexus brand.  In 2016 he became President of ED2 (Toyota Europe Design Development) where his team spearheaded development of mobility concepts such as the Toyota e-Palette as part of the brand’s transition from “automotive company” to “mobility company.” Humphries began his career in design in 1988 when he was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Bursary Prize for Product Design in the UK.  The award gave him the opportunity to work for Sony, which jump-started his passion for living and working in Japan. In his spare time Humphries enjoys carpentry and he is restoring a 100-year old Japanese farmhouse.




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Mentors Announced for 2021 Lexus Design Award


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