Freedom to Move from Lexus
Lexus collaborates with designers Tosin Oshinowo and Chrissa Amuah to present a collection of headpieces that celebrate innovation through design and craftsmanship. By Aarthi Sriram In coordination with Design Miami, Freedom to Move is a conceptual design that explores a universal language of protection, reflecting on the desire for freedom, global history, and movement through craftsmanship and cultural cues. This collection of headpieces explores the idea of protection and celebration as well as functionality and ornamentation. Inspired by the changes this year has brought worldwide, the headpieces are conceived as an alternative to the utilitarian face masks that have become ubiquitous, while artistically celebrating the collective desire to move through the world freely and confidently together.
Freedom to Move is aimed to be understood across cultures through its exploration of materials, textures, colour and craftsmanship. In keeping with the Lexus automotive experience and core values, Freedom to Move reconsiders human movement in this new world, creating a design that is elegant, functional, and luxurious. The headpieces fuse new innovations with lost techniques and bring together cultural references from across the world, including Japanese principles of design, Omotenashi (exceptional hospitality) and Takumi (expert craftsmanship), which were integral throughout the design process.
Collaborating in Lagos, Nigeria, where Tosin is based, the designers considered their context in Africa, in addition to the diversity of cultures around the world. With an understanding of today’s face mask and its functionality, the designers explored global history in which the head has always been a focal point for protection and adornment across cultures. Though rooted in history, the headpieces also nod to the future, signaling an unbounded and unending pursuit of advancement, innovation and discovery. “As nomadic beings, it is unnatural to stand still, and we wanted to reconfigure how we move in a positive way in spite of the restrictions of motion the world now finds itself in,” says Chrissa Amuah.
“Our conceptual design makes a bold stride towards our new human existence and is enraptured in a marriage of ergonomics and spectacle,” said Tosin Oshinowo.
The three uniquely designed headpieces are titled; Egaro, Pioneer Futures, and Ògún, have slight alterations and integrate multiple materials such as brass, bronze, leather, and acrylic, with detailing of hand beading, laser etching and embroidery using the West African tinko method. All three designs feature transparent panels, which allow the wearer to overcome the challenges of communicating with limited facial expressions presented by typical protective masks.Egaro: Egaro takes its name from the site at Termit in eastern Niger, where archeological evidence confirms that Africa had independently invented its own iron technology 5,000 years ago. It is a celebration of the discoveries and advancements that originated on the continent. The stencil design running across the headpieces acts as a face shield, covering the eyes, nose and mouth, offer added protection. The pattern that is etched onto the visor is called Breathe, which is inspired by the pulmonary veins of the lungs. It also follows an African fractal rhythm, which is further echoed with Pioneer Futures.
Pioneer Futures: Refers to the age of enlightenment, where mankind has sought to explore the unknown. It plays between two different ages – Western Europe on the frontiers of technology advancement, seen through the pleated collar made of leather and suede that protects the mouth, paired with a nod to futurism seen through the astronaut dome protecting the eyes. A hand-embroidered pattern references African fractals that make up mathematical connotations.Ògún: Ògún is the traditional Yorùbá god of war, metal, and technology. This design looked at the history of the Benin Kingdom, its influence on the Yorùbá people, and its contribution to modern civilisation. They’re known for their advanced form of casting bronze sculptures that date back to 1200 BC. We utilized the same ancient techniques, working with a fifth-generation bronze caster in Benin. The complicated design also required multiple attempts with 3D printing to find the right cast that could then be sent to Benin to be hand sculpted in bronze and brass.
As a long term partner of Design Miami, Lexus approached this year’s fair as an opportunity to reflect on the shared global condition, choosing a collaboration that is inspired by the brand’s human-centered approach and reflects on the common desire for comfort, safety, and beauty as we collectively move towards a new future.“When Lexus first approached us to work on a conceptual project to explore the potential for design in the summer of 2020, we were immediately drawn to the unique changes this year has brought, and how the global pandemic has prompted everyone around the world to consider and evaluate notions of protection, movement, comfort, and communication. We began to think about how we could reconfigure our human movement in this new world, and how we could reconsider restrictions that are currently taking very utilitarian form to be a celebration of possibility, of life, and of community. In our early research, we began to make connections between the human head as a universal focal point in times of war and celebration. Now, in the midst of a global pandemic, we all are acutely aware of the head as both hostage to and host of an invisible adversary. Thinking about the masks that we all now wear for daily protection, we wanted to take a step further and consider how we can not only protect ourselves, but use this opportunity to celebrate our joint humanity. If we must wear masks, then let them be glorious! Let them celebrate our humanity and shared joys, rather than conceal them,” say the designers.
Lexus has debuted a compelling three-part docuseries which follows Oshinowo and Amuah on location, bringing to life the personalities behind the collaboration and showcasing the design journey from sketch, concept generation to prototype and final production. Design Miami was from November 27 through December 6 online and in-person in the Miami Design District.