LEXUS DESIGN AWARD continues its mission in 2023: to shape a better tomorrow by supporting and nurturing the next generation of creators together with globally acclaimed mentors. Launched in 2013, the international design competition continues to foster the growth of ideas from up-and-coming creators from around the world. 2022 finalist Chitofarm by Charlotte Böhning and Mary Lempres, and 2020 finalist Feltscape by Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero share their uprising experience with designboom and talk about their journey before, during, and after the prestigious recognition from the Platform.
‘Specifically, working on Chitofarm was a very important project that I never would have pursued if it hadn’t been for LEXUS DESIGN AWARD.’ The project allowed me to pull from so many different knowledge bases and to be incredibly creative. It was the most fun I’ve ever had designing. LEXUS DESIGN AWARD showed me the impact I can have in this field,’ mentions Mary Lempres to designboom, co-designer of Chitofarm.
Chitofarm by 2022 finalists Charlotte Böhning and Mary Lempres
LEXUS DESIGN AWARD 2023 ORIENTATION WEBINAR
As every year since its foundation in 2013, finalists are selected amongst thousands of entries. Funding to create prototypes, exhibitions, and professional advice from experts of various fields are only some of the invaluable assets that LEXUS DESIGN AWARD offers. More specifically, the Awards Platform offers the unique opportunity for each final entry to work with a globally recognized creator, which as their mentor, helps them into prototyping their ideas, as well as guiding the project from the beginning to the final review. Moreover, the Competition grants valuable exposure of the winning works through global media
To promote and go over the valuable benefits of the award, Lexus sets up an orientation webinar on September 16 and 21, inviting creators around the world who may be interested in applying in order to get a deeper understanding of its purpose and features. Past award winners are also joining to talk about their personal journeys after the success.
Feltscape by 2020 finalists Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero
from an academic project to an international finalist
Set to join the webinar, Italian and French Architects Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero met at the UCL Bartlett School of Architecture, and the rest is history. From an academic project to an international finalist, Feltscape pushed the two designers to exceed boundaries between research, societal issues, science and design. With the professional feedback and help from the LEXUS DESIGN AWARD, Théophile and Salvatore succeeded in bringing their project into the commercial world.
‘Feltscape is the meeting between a research pursued at the UCL on soft materials and a growing concern on mental health issues in our societies. Feltscape was then a flexible cocoon that was gently stretching and contracting to describe a relaxing respiration pattern. Feltscape’s design was inspired directly by the user experience. Then our design inspirations were coming from the scientific world. For the pod atmosphere we were mesmerized and influenced by lung anatomical drawings or satellite views of cloud formations. The soft material composition was inspired by the iris petal structure, offering different stiffness and behavior in a single entity. We always tried to think out of the code of the design world,’ Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero.
Théophile Peju (left) and Salvatore Cicero (right)
Feltscape by Théophile Peju & Salvatore Cicero
Feltscape is a breathing cloud that fosters the philosophical idea of isolation. It is made of felt and recycled bio-plastic with an innovative robotic fabrication process, and by the implementation of sensors and kinetic mechanisms, the cloud follows the visitor’s breath. The membrane rhythm gradually accelerates or decelerates guiding the occupant to inhale/exhale slower.
‘LEXUS DESIGN AWARD has been resilient and always tried to support us in the best possible way. We would not be more grateful to Lexus for this lifetime opportunity. Our life will always be influenced by this award,’ add Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero, designers of Feltscape.
Feltscape is made of felt and recycled bio-plastic with an innovative robotic fabrication process
According to the two creators, the mentoring program was key to the development of their project. As they were exposed to the many talented designers and experts that were part of the judges, the evaluated guidance soon brought the breathing cloud to the finalists.
‘The mentoring program was key to the development of Feltscape. We have been working with exceptionally talented designers and because of that we understood the importance of design in society. When we got shortlisted for LEXUS DESIGN AWARD, our Feltscape was mainly an innovative technology. When we started our journey with Lexus, thanks to our mentor, we speculated on the potential of our work and the way this could make a difference in our society. Feltscape became a breathing cloud that fosters the philosophical idea of isolation,’ they add.
Feltscape by Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero is an ongoing research on disruptive design and fabrication techniques
Feltscape is an ongoing research on disruptive design and fabrication techniques for tackling mental health issues. Adaptable, flexible and customizable, the project’s philosophy has also been applied for hotel rooms, co-working pods, and more all thanks to the resiliency of the Competition Platform.
‘An amazing panel of mentors, judges, and staff guided us along the journey. This experience has been full of surprises and, with the other finalists, we have been supporting each other to give our best, in spite of the unfortunate circumstances,’ conclude Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero.
‘An amazing panel of mentors, judges, and staff guided us along the journey,’ say the two designers
Chitofarm by Charlotte Böhning & Mary Lempres
Classmates from the Pratt Institute, Charlotte Böhning and Mary Lempres began their collaborative design practice with a centered focus on material-driven innovation, empathic technologies, and human-centric factors. With a similar approach, Chitofarm was born.
‘Lexus gave us a chance to lead a project, solve a problem, and create a physical product that can improve people’s lives. Creating Chitofarm was a passion project that we never thought we would be able to prototype and test at scale. LEXUS DESIGN AWRAD gave us the means and support to build a solution that can disrupt human habit and change the world,’ adds Mary.
2022 finalists Charlotte Böhning (left) and Mary Lempres (right)
Chitofarm is an innovative new mealworm-powered bio-digester that facilitates a simple and beautiful natural process to solve the man-made problem of polystyrene foam waste. This localized solution puts the power of change into the hands of the individual with the help of a small, but mighty, creature: the mealworm. Through continuous mentoring sessions, Charlotte and Mary expanded Chitofarm into a social ecosystem with a global perspective.
‘The mentoring sessions were super challenging for us. They pushed us to change direction, which was really scary but helped us find the right way and consider the global context. Each mentor’s advice was from a different category, but they’re all passionate about encouraging us to see more possibilities. It was a priceless learning experience,’ says Mary Lempres to designboom.
Chitofarm by Charlotte Böhning and Mary Lempres
The original proposal used mealworm exoskeletons to make a biodegradable packaging material, while farming the mealworms to produce a low-impact protein source. With the help of the platform’s mentorship, a more architectural approach was integrated and open source and scalable, low-tech solution was developed.
‘The mentors challenged me to do something totally new: something architectural that can be integrated into people’s homes and lives, something open source and scalable, a low-tech solution that can exist in multiple cultures and climates. Above all else: this needed to be a social design that mirrored human habit with the habits and health of insects. Mealworms are very small creatures that have the remarkable ability to safely digest polystyrene foam and other toxic substances. With Chitofarm we show how the little mealworm can have a big impact on our world,’ the designer continues to explain.
Chitofarm is a new mealworm-powered bio-digester that facilitates a simpler natural process to solve the man-made problem of polystyrene foam waste
each professional offered specialized, specific advice
Each year, Lexus works with a world-class panel of judges to select winners who best embody Lexus’ fundamental principle: – Anticipate; Innovate; and Captivate. Besides the feedback, the mentors also ensure that they give designers the most complete experience they can for their projects. In the instance of Mary and Charlotte, a trip to Mexico was arranged and financially covered, which along with guidance, entailed detailed studies of insects and nature. The combination of ethnography and one-on-one mentorship helped the two designers understand the impact of their project. Moreover, each professional offered specialized, specific advice that pushed the solution forward. As the advisors represented many different cultures, various perspectives were given on how to integrate the mealworm digestion into homes, livelihoods, and operations.
‘We’d wake up early in the morning and meet with each of our mentors and, after, we’d visit sites in Mexico where insects and nature were being utilized to solve problems […] It was amazing to have challenging and inspiring conversations with designers who were playing an active role in changing and defining the future of design. Best of all, we were all from different places and represented many different cultures. This, informed as well by the global LEXUS DESIGN AWARD participants and our early users/testers, helped us look at this solution through a globalized perspective that incorporated predisposed and novice users,’ verifies Mary.
each professional offered specialized, specific advice that pushed Charlotte’s and Mary’s project forward
‘my experience with Lexus changed my life,’ says mary Lempres
‘My experience with LEXUS DESIGN AWARD changed my life, forwarded my career, and gave me the chance to work on a design project that can disrupt our current infrastructure and waste management. It allowed me to work on a project in its purest form. Our project was selected while my partner and I were in graduate school. This exposure and leadership experience, so early on in my design career, helped me see what my role in this industry could be and that I have the tools and knowledge necessary to create change through design. Already, this experience has opened new doors for me that allow me to continue this methodology and practice,’ admits the 2022 finalist.
snippet from the Mexico trip | image credit Charlotte Böhning
snippet from the Mexico trip | image credit Charlotte Böhning
To registER TO THE COMPETITION follow the link here!
award: LEXUS DESIGN AWARD
2022 finalist: Charlotte Böhning and Mary Lempres – Chitofarm
2020 finalist: Théophile Peju and Salvatore Cicero – Feltscape
LEXUS DESIGN AWARD (41)
a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.