AUT and Lexus partner to support emerging design talent in Aotearoa

9 months ago by

Lexus New Zealand has teamed up with the Auckland University of Technology (AUT) Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies to encourage local entries into the International Lexus Design Award, to showcase New Zealand’s innovative design talent on the world stage.

The Lexus Design Award competition works with a world-class panel of judges who are some of today’s most influential figures in art, design, and technology.

Lexus New Zealand General Manager of Marketing, Andrew Davis says Lexus has partnered with AUT to run a localised Lexus Design Awards competition as a pre-cursor to the international competition. “Lexus believes design has the power to change the world and wants to inspire creators to produce ideas that can improve people’s lives,” he says. “We have amazing emerging designers in this country and the partnership with AUT aims to ensure we have strong representation at the 2021 Lexus Design Award.”

The Lexus Design Awards paper offered to AUT students focuses on designing a concept, product, or system that overcomes a challenge of the future – issues like sustainable housing for displaced refugees, high-tech medical bracelets for first responders, a device that enables virtual ‘hugs’, and a concept addressing the issue of public sexual harassment. All concepts anticipate the needs of tomorrow within a sustainability-focused design framework.

The Lexus Design Award AUT competition will utilise the same design criteria as the international competition, with the judging provided by Lexus Ambassadors, Resident design collective, and a Lexus executive. AUT Director of External Engagement, Dr Yvonne Chan, says “Around 60 AUT Creative Technologies students will spend the second semester working on their entries for the coveted global competition enthusiastic to reach Milan – the home of the Design Week in 2021,”. Resident’s Managing Director, Scott Bridgens says “From a mentoring and judging perspective, we are excited to collaborate with designers who can anticipate the needs of tomorrow and translate a sustainability-focused design premise into bright new ideas which make the world a better place. There is no limit to the scope of ideas that can be considered for this Design Award, so we wait with baited-breath to see the submissions.”

The local Lexus Design prizegiving is happening tonight in Auckland where all the prototypes will be on display. Lexus will provide cash prizes to the first, second and third place winners.

The panel will pick a short list of six designers, to receive mentoring and funding, before competing for the Grand Prix trophy in September 2021. The judges’ decision on the Grand Prix winner will be based on the three key principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate, and Captivate. The theme for the 2021 Lexus Design Award is “Design for a Better Tomorrow.”

“We’ll be looking for a concept, product, or system that overcomes challenges we face today – here in New Zealand, or globally,” Andrew says.
Concepts must anticipate a challenge of the future, address that challenge with an innovative solution, and captivate the imagination with its exceptional design. The criteria are:
• Anticipate: Does the concept and design anticipate not only the needs of the user experience, but the needs of society?
• Innovate: Does the design demonstrate the new thinking and originality in its proposal and execution?
• Captivate: Is the design intriguing and compelling when realized in concept and execution?

Design Assembly got an opportunity to preview of some of the entires;


  • SHELL – 80 million people were forcibly displaced by the end of 2019, with 40% of those being under the age of 18. (UNHCR, 2020) This requires a fast and effective solution, even if this is only temporary. SHELL is a sustainable, eco-friendly approach to short-term disaster relief housing. SHELL features a portable flatpack design, allowing for modular connection, simple assembly, and adaptability to support multi-person living environments.

  • Look Out – ‘Look Out’ is a VR experience evoking vulnerability through a simulation of walking home alone. The negative and vulnerable emotions that women feel on the streets, specifically from catcalling and stalking, is replicated in ‘Look Out’. It is an awareness simulation for the general public using Virtual Reality.

  • MED ID – MED ID is an NFC based (wireless connection) tag containing relevant medical history and a list of current medication for first responders. During an emergency situation where the patient is unresponsive or unsure of certain details, the first responder can tap the tag with an NFC enabled device and input the passcode engraved in the tag allowing them access to the information needed – streamlining the workflow of first responders.

  • Heartfelt – ‘Heartfelt’ is unique because it was born out of COVID-19. During this time, the world has come to realise how important physical touch and affection are. ‘Heartfelt’ gives physical comfort without risking the user’s health. Using smart electronics, ‘Heartfelt’ can replicate the warmth of a hug and the heartbeat of a loved one, in a time where distance and separation are the norm for many, and could be for the near future.



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