Lexus Design Award 2015: A Journey of the Senses

I set out to Milan recently to not only check out the finalists of the Lexus Design Award 2015 competition, but to explore a special exhibition that was an offshoot of this year’s team: Senses. The finalist’s designs were incorporated into an experience that Lexus dubbed A Journey of the Senses. Lexus partnered with designer Philippe Nigro to translate the brand’s emphasis on the senses, where they focus on offering a pleasurable, sensory-filled driving experience. Just like the cars themselves, the exhibition kept visitors engaged through Nigro’s ‘Inside-Out’ concept. They also brought in famed chef Hajime Yoneda to round out the experience. Take a look.

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Zone 1 sets out to engage the senses with a concept car cocooned around dozens of mirrors that reflect the car and its design details in various ways. They added color illumination that further stimulated the senses and imagination.

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Zone 2 is where visitors got to take a look at the design finalists in the Lexus Design Award 2015 competition. The four prototype winners (below) were surrounded by the finalists’ designs, letting people fully get a sense of where the design world is heading. Each of the winners was aided along the way with experienced mentors to help guide their process.

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The first prototype is Diomedeidae, a kinetic lighting sculpture by Daiki Nakamori, Adriano Alfaro, and Gaetano Mirko Vatiero. It generates electricity from its own flapping which anyone can start by pulling down and releasing the center weight.

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LUZ, by Marina Mellado Mendieta, is a global emotional lighting system that’s based on open source technology and programming. The lighting concept aims to help people in Polar Regions who might be affected by the lack of daylight and sunshine.

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Keita Ebidzuka’s Animal Masks gave wearers/visitors a chance to see the world just like an animal would through their point of view. To aid the experience, the masks are outfitted with digital devices to help with the goal of fusing “mythological symbolism with contemporary reality by connecting the symbols and the technology in a form of bricolage.”

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And finally, the Grand Prix Winner… Sense-Wear by Emanuela Corti and Ivan Parati. The collection is made up of sense-oriented garments and accessories that aim to stimulate and improve the awareness of the senses through training us to better us them all. Some of the pieces are made to dull physical sensations while heightening others.

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After the designs, you were led to Zone 3, the final zone on the journey where the tastes of Hajime Yoneda were added. There were a series of latticework structures where each one had a goal of heightening the senses in a different way, topped with tasty treats to take it that much further.

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Scene 1 recreated the feelings of joy while driving through the rain, an experience that Chef Yoneda personally had. In a Lexus, the driver can feel exhilaration with the natural beauty and sound of the raindrops falling on the car, while you’re inside the cocoon. The scene evoked the sights, sounds, and taste of happily driving a Lexus on a rainy day. “Raindrops” made of sparkling candy were given out as you entered the darkened room.

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Next up in Scene 2, Chef Yoneda was inspired by the Lexus cockpit, where a driver is enveloped within a sense of comfort. The scene references the growth rings of a tree with quiets sounds of a forest surrounding you, all paired with a cacao butter wrapped treat filled with flavors of verdant greenery that wash over you.

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Scene 3 let visitors experience the life force of earth with feelings of warm hospitality that experienced Lexus drivers feel. A warm, ‘earthy’ soup was provided to bring warmth to the body while looking down on earth from the dark expanse of outer space.

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Nigro designed a winding, wood structure that helps bring the exhibition and journey full circle as it connects the inside with the outside, just like the experience of driving a Lexus car.

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Photos by Andrea Gilardi.