TOKYO, Japan (February 3, 2020) – Today Lexus announced the six finalists for the 2020 Lexus Design Award, who will receive mentorship from renowned design leaders and funding of up to 3,000,000 yen (over $30,000 CAD) to create prototypes of their projects. The finalists represent the United States, China, Europe, Pakistan and Kenya and were selected from a record-setting group of 2,042 submissions from 79 countries. Now in its eighth year, the Lexus Design Award provides a unique platform for young creators to demonstrate and further develop their talents.  The proposals were selected based on their expression of three key principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate, and Captivate, with an emphasis on design that leads to a better tomorrow.  

Lexus Design Award 2020 Finalists

  • Bio.Scales by Sutherlin Santo (USA) 
    • A modular, carbon sequestering air filtration system assembled from robotically 3D printed biopolymer scales.
  • Feltscape, by Théophile Peju & Salvatore Cicero (France, Italy / Based in United Kingdom) 
    • A breathing felt cloud which interacts with people and space to enhance well-being.
  • Flash Pak, by Yaokun Wu (China / Based in USA)
    • A smart survival apparatus that protects young students and helps them stay together in flash floods.
  • Lick, by Irina Samoilova (Russia)
    • A portable body cleaner for humans with a unique surface similar to a cat’s tongue.
  • Open Source Communities, by BellTower (Kenya)  
    • A project exploring the future of smart sustainable communities in developing countries using open-source home plans.
  • Pursewit, by Aqsa Ajmal (Pakistan)
    • An accessible sewing machine that incorporates sewing skills to assist in income generation for the visually impaired.

According to technologist and Lexus Design Award 2020 judge John Maeda, “this year’s Lexus Design Award finalists speak to two main themes: consciousness and the environment, which 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 practiced opinions on engineering. Narrowing the massive list of entries down to the small set of representative works was not a simple task. But working with jurors like Jeanne Gang and Paola Antonelli made the task easy given their broad range of knowledge about transformative design projects. I offered my technology and business perspective to question both engineering and financial viability. In the end I think we found the right set of captivating projects to represent the themes of mind and body that are critical to our future.”

In January the six finalists traveled to New York City for a life-changing workshop experience, engaging in a dialogue with four acclaimed mentors: Joe Doucet, Bethan Gray, Philippe Malouin and Shohei Shigematsu, each offering their own distinctive wisdom and expertise. The workshop had taken place at INTERSECT BY LEXUS-NYC, the brand’s unique lifestyle space.

This workshop kicks off an ongoing interaction between finalists and mentors leading up to the judging session in Italy, during Milan Design Week*. In the context of this major event on the global design calendar, finalists will present their completed prototypes to the world and one will be selected by the esteemed judging panel of Paola Antonelli, Jeanne Gang, John Maeda, and Simon Humphries during the competition’s Grand Prix event.

Please visit for additional information.  
Official Hashtag: #LexusDesignAward

* The world’s largest design exhibition, also known as Salone Del Mobile, presents events and exhibits by brands and designers in many categories including furniture, fashion and textiles. 


Lexus launched in 1989 with a flagship sedan and a guest experience that helped define the premium automotive industry. In 1998, Lexus introduced the luxury crossover category with the launch of the Lexus RX. The luxury hybrid sales leader, Lexus delivered the world’s first luxury hybrid and has since sold over 1.5 million hybrid vehicles.

A global luxury automotive brand with an unwavering commitment to bold, uncompromising design, exceptional craftsmanship, and exhilarating performance, Lexus has developed its lineup to meet the needs of the next generation of global luxury guests and is currently available in over 90 countries worldwide.

Lexus associates/team members across the world are dedicated to crafting amazing experiences that are uniquely Lexus, and that excite and change the world.


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 recognized designer as a mentor to create prototypes of their designs, and then exhibit them at one of the design calendar's most important events. 




Title of work: Bio.Scales
Bio.Scales are biopolymer filters made from natural, ecologically engaged materials designed to remove carbon and other harmful compounds from the air. This modular, 3D printed system is reconfigurable and adaptable, providing improved air quality to any living space.

Name: Sutherlin Santo
Country: USA

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

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

Name: Théophile Peju & Salvatore Cicero
Country: (Théophile Peju (France), Salvatore Cicero (Italy) / Based in United Kingdom

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

Title of work: Flash Pak
Flash Pak is a smart survival apparatus like a life jacket that guides students to safety in flash floods via a haptic navigation system with LED lights. It inflates to become a flotation device alone but also can be strapped to other Flash Paks to keep the group together like a raft.

Name: Yaokun Wu
China / Based in USA
Yaokun Wu is an industrial design student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He feels grateful for everything he has and wishes 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.

Title of work: Lick
Lick is a portable body cleaner which will help people who are unable to use a bath. The device has a cleaning surface like a cat’s tongue similar to how cats clean their body from impurities.

Name: Irina Samoilova
Country: Russie

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

Title of work: Open Source Communities
Open Source Communities is a proposal outlining an efficient way of designing communities in developing countries based on using smart open-source plans. The designers endeavor to see how these designs may be refined for adaptability to create connected homes that are sustainable.

Name: YBellTower (John Brian Kamau, Joyce Wairimu Gachiri, Ian Githegi Kamau, Esther Wanjiku Kamau and Arvin Booker Kamau)
Country: Kenya

BellTower was established in 2014 with the vision of using open source systems and technologies to solve problems. They came together to create a team with skills in Risk Management, Information Technology, Design, Project Management and Strategy to build an open-source community model for personal, corporate and industrial needs.

Tile of work: Pursewit
The Pursewit has a sleek new design that just invites you to sew!
By simplifying sewing machine use for the visually impaired, operation is made more intuitive and tactile, enhancing the cumbersome process of sewing.

Name: Aqsa Ajmal
Country: Pakistan

Aqsa Ajmal, Industrial Designer, graduated from 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 tangible interaction and firsthand experiments in design, she looks forward to improving connections between people and products.





Paola Antonelli is Senior Curator of Architecture & Design at The Museum of Modern Art, as well as MoMA’s founding Director of Research & 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 is working on Material Ecology, a show on the work of architect Neri Oxman that will open at MoMA in February 2020; on several new sessions of her MoMA R&D Salons; and on two books–– a collection of essays on contemporary design and Design Bites, a book about foods from all over the world as examples of design.




Jeanne Gang, FAIA, is the founding principal and partner of internationally renowned architecture and urban design practice Studio Gang. Recognized for an approach that expands beyond architecture’s conventional boundaries to foreground relationships between individuals, communities, and their environment. Jeanne has a diverse, award-winning portfolio of work throughout the Americas and Europe. These include Aqua Tower in Chicago, an expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the new United States Embassy in Brasilia. A MacArthur Fellow and Professor in Practice of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Jeanne this year was named one of the most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine and won her largest commission to date: the 2.2 million sf O’Hare Global Terminal.




John Maeda is an American technologist, designer, engineer, artist, investor, author, and teacher. He was recently appointed chief experience officer at Publicis Sapient, the technology consulting and delivery arm of communications and marketing conglomerate Publicis. He has held positions with Automattic, the parent company of; the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins; led research at the MIT Media Lab; and served as president of the Rhode Island School of Design. Named as one of the “75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century” by Esquire, Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and executive leader to bring people and ideas together at scale. He is the author of several celebrated books, including The Laws of Simplicity and Redesigning Leadership and his upcoming book How to Speak Machine will be available November 2019. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED have received millions of views.




Yoshihiro Sawa has been innovating automobile design and engineering for over thirty years. A visionary anchored in the practical, he is acknowledged as a global leader in his field. Sawa has been involved in building better, more beautiful vehicles for decades, applying his unique perspective to the harmony of form and function. This has seen him lead various aspects of the business from engineering to design to product development, giving him a particularly holistic view of the art of building automobiles. Sawa applies this to his role at Lexus, guiding the brand in delivering on its promise of amazing experiences through inspired design, relentless innovation, and uninhibited performance.





A designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director, Joe Doucet is one of the most sought-after creative talents working in America today. After graduating from the Art Center College of Design, Doucet quickly began exporting his vision into product, furniture, environment, and technology to find solutions for daily and societal challenges through design. His work deftly hybridizes 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, including the London Design Museum and the Biennale International Design in Saint-Etienne. He has received numerous international awards, including a World Technology Award for Design Innovation and multiple Good Design Awards. He was also named the only ever AvantGuardian for Design by Surface Magazine. In 2017, Doucet was named the 2017 Winner of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award as Product Designer—the highest honor in his field.  As an entrepreneur, Doucet has created and launched a myriad of businesses aimed at making the world a better place though design, including OTHR and Citizen A.




London-based Bethan Gray is one the UK’s most celebrated furniture and homeware designers, having been awarded four Elle Decoration British Design Awards including the coveted Best British Designer. Her work features extensively in global media; and she has exhibited in London, Milan, Paris, New York and Dubai.

Bethan’s ancestors went on an incredible journey across continents - Bethan has since visited many of the places they passed through, inspired by a love of travel, art and culture. Today, her mission is to bring contemporary relevance to the traditional techniques from these regions – keeping both cultural narratives and craft skills alive. She believes in the power of telling stories through craft and design and has formed joint ventures based on mutual trust and respect that support over 400 master crafts people globally.

Established in 2008, Bethan Gray Design creates luxury handcrafted collections of furniture and home accessories that are sold through global retailers such as Harrods, Liberty, Lane Crawford. Within her own practice in London, she nurtures, connects and encourages new design talent and mentors upcoming female designers. She has recently launched a Prize for Women in Craft with Cardiff Metropolitan University where she is an honorary fellow.




British-Canadian Philippe Malouin holds a bachelor’s degree in Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven. He has also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris and the University of Montreal.

He set up his studio in 2008 after working for English designer Tom Dixon. Philippe has also taught at the Royal College of Art in London between 2012-2015. He is also the director of POST-OFFICE, the architectural and interior design practice.

His diverse portfolio includes tables, rugs, chairs, lights, art objects and installations. Philippe’s client list includes SCP, Marsotto Edizioni, Resident, OTHR, Hem, Ace hotel, Matter-Made, Established & Sons, Roll & Hill, 1882 ltd., Kvadrat, Umbra Shift, Caesarstone, IZÉ, Swarovski, Bloomberg, Aesop, Touch Digital.

Philippe is represented by Salon 94 Design gallery in New York City. He has recently won the Wallpaper* Magazine 'designer of the year' award. Philippe lives and works in London, where he operates his design studio.




Shohei Shigematsu joined OMA in 1998, has led the New York office since 2006, and became a partner in 2008. He has recently completed the renovation of Sotheby’s New York headquarters, luxury high-rise towers in San Francisco and Miami, and OMA’s first ground-up building in New York City, a residential complex at 121 East 22nd Street. Sho has successfully completed designs for cultural venues including the Quebec National Beaux Arts Museum and the Faena Arts Center in Miami Beach. Currently in progress are the expansion of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum and a second building for the New Museum. Sho has also designed exhibitions for Prada, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory, and Dior’s first US retrospective at the Denver Art Museum and Dallas Museum of Art. He oversees OMA’s projects in Japan, including a new business center in Fukuoka (2020) and OMA’s first mixed-use tower in Tokyo for Mori Building Co, Ltd. (2022).

A design critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Sho has lectured at TED and Wired Japan conference, and at universities throughout the world.


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