Omotenashi, an untranslatable Japanese expression that encompasses both hospitality and mindfulness, and which perfectly reflects the spirit of Superstudio, a unique space at the last Milan Design Week where Lexus presented Shaped by Air. This light and airy installation by acclaimed New York artist and architect Suchi Reddy is a celebration of a commitment to impeccably crafted, carbon-neutral, human-focused design; values linked to the work of the founder of Reddymade Architecture and Design and also to Lexus automobiles.
Inspired by the Lexus Electrified Sport, the brand's vision of a future all-electric sports coupe, the artwork is a multi-sensory experience that visitors can move through. In it, a series of shapes suspended from the ceiling that resemble a forest, placed at different heights and finished in an intense green tone, subtly recall Matisse's cut-out works. Sculptural elements of steel and aluminum, partly made from recycled or repurposed materials, splashed with diffused light, create an absorbing environment that evokes the natural world, while a soundscape inspired by the wind conveys a sense of complete harmony with nature. .
Shaped by Air joins a series of immersive experiences that Lexus has commissioned to bring to Milan at the hands of creative visionaries such as Philippe Nigro, Neri Oxman, Sou Fijomoto, Rizhomatics or Germane Barnes. As Reddy herself has explained, the installation "makes use of repetition, multi-sensory elements and three-dimensionality to create an emotional environment that envelops the body like a vehicle". In addition, visitors were able to discover a scaled-down interpretation of the Lexus Electrified Sport, in a room that featured air purified by Panasonic's nanoe™ X, a technology that helps create a healthier atmosphere inside many Lexus models.
The digital public was also able to interact with Shaped by Air through a partnership with Diorama, a company specializing in the creation of digital assets for various disciplines, from architecture to fashion, which has been in charge of reinterpreting the work in the metaverse. The virtual expanse becomes a dynamic digital forest that users can explore from a sensory perspective, appreciating the rustling of leaves or air currents and diffused light.
The Lexus exhibition has also included the final prototypes created by the winners of the Lexus Design Award 2023. Under the motto Design for a Better Tomorrow, this contest invited creators to present concepts that are capable of anticipating the challenges that await us, to generate positive changes. As Simon Humphries, Toyota Motor Corporation Chief Branding Officer and one of the jury members, explained, “We designers have a responsibility to create responses to challenges, whether through innovative ideas, beautiful aesthetics, or any other method. that can offer a better future”.
The winning works are –as Humphries points out– a clear reminder of the “power of design”. Its creators had the opportunity, before the presentation at Milan Design Week, to collaborate and share ideas with four world-class creators, who acted as mentors for the Lexus Design Award this year: Marjan van Aubel, Joe Doucet, Yuri Suzuki and Sumayya Valley. In the words of this last prestigious architect, “it was incredible to see the hard work of the winners reflected in the works they presented. I believe each of the projects poetically and pertinently poses significant and urgent questions about our world today, bringing to life a more beautiful and sensitive future.”
Pavels Hedström, a Swedish designer based in Denmark, won an award for Fog-X, a jacket that transforms into a tent/shelter that is capable of trapping fog and turning it into drinkable water. Chinese industrial designer Jiaming Liu created a 3D-printed humidifier made from recycled ceramic waste that increases the efficiency of water absorption. The Print Clay Humidier is an upcycled and recyclable non-electric version of a common household device that is both stylish and functional.
Temporary Office, the team formed by the Singaporean Vincent Lai and the Canadian Douglas Lee, based in the United States, created a topographical puzzle in 3D that helps visually impaired people to know the physical environment through touch. And South Korean industrial design students Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo presented Zero Bag, an eco-friendly packaging that dissolves in water and removes chemicals from products while reducing plastic waste. The initial idea for the clothing retail market has evolved to explore other industries such as food.
The final prototypes of these designs were exhibited for the first time in Milan, where the public was able to learn about the evolution of the products through the mentoring program. In addition, the Lexus Design Award invited the public to participate in the Your Choice Award, voting for the idea that, for them, best condenses the idea of Design for a Better Tomorrow.
The passion for design, art and innovation, as well as the desire to respond to environmental challenges, are also the hallmark of Lexus creations. Since 2005, the brand has been at the forefront of pioneering electrification in the luxury market.
With the introduction of Lexus Electrified Sport, it continues to push the boundaries of technology and craftsmanship, showing an unwavering commitment to sustainability and advancing the building of future mobility. Suchi Reddy's installation and the work of the Lexus Design Award winners confirm Lexus' vision of a human-centered future, uniting quality design and technology with the need to preserve the planet.