Lexus in Collaboration with Tosin Oshinowo and Chrissa Amuah Present a Collection of Headpieces Celebrating Innovation through Design and Craftsmanship
January 26, 2021
Last Thursday, Lexus unveiled the widely celebrated collaboration between leading Lagos-based architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo, and British-Ghanaian textiles designer Chrissa Amuah in its second act; the reveal of 4 new headpieces, representing two new district design directions: Pioneer Futures and Ògún. Commissioned by Lexus, the series explores how human movement has been redefined by the COVID-19 pandemic and reconsiders the utilitarian masks of today exploring the potential for celebration and experimentation alongside functionality.
The three uniquely designed headpieces are titled Egaro, Pioneer Futures, and Ògún, which 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. Working by hand with artisans that use ancient craft techniques, was matched with the use of 3D printing and advanced technologies. All three of the mask designs feature transparent panels, which allow the wearer to overcome the challenges of communicating with limited facial expressions presented by typical protective masks.
Egaro takes its name from the site at Termit in eastern Niger, where archaeological evidence confirms that Africa had independently invented its own iron technology 5,000 years ago. It is a celebration of the discoveries and advancement that originated on the continent. The stencil design running across the headpieces acts as a face shield, covering the eyes, nose and mouth, offering 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 in the embroidery seen in Pioneer Futures. Iteration one is transparent and iteration two is covered with reflective bronze, making a significant statement. Materials include moulded transparent acrylic and brass.
Pioneer Futures refers to the age of enlightenment, where mankind has sought to explore the unknown. Instigated by necessity or curiosity, in essence, this idea shares the same spirit of enquiry in this collection. Pioneer Future 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. These African sequencing designs are also seen in cornrow hair designs, which we emulated in the pattern using the West African technique called tinko embroidery. The juxtaposition of material and colour provide subtleties and nuances to the design that really make this piece elegant and beautiful. Iteration one has hand-beaded details over a teal coloured leather, and iteration two follows the cornrow pattern over a coral coloured suede. Materials include a moulded acrylic helmet, beads, knife-pleated suede and leather cape.
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 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. It’s a difficult process, as today bronze casting is manufactured and mostly made with brass – yet we wanted to utilize the traditional techniques, which is why one iteration is made with bronze and the other with brass. 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. Materials include moulded reflective visor, brass, bronze, and rhinestone detail on suede.
The collaboration was initially debuted through a digital experience using video footage, visual assets, as well as through content creators across the world, including the world’s first digital supermodel @shudu.gram; international photographer @thismintymoment, and European YouTuber Jenny Mustard. The series will continue to be shared with creatives around the world and celebrated in an ongoing digital dialogue.
“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 the year brought, and how the global pandemic 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 through this time. In our early research, we began to make connections between the focus on the human head as a universal focal point in times of war and celebration—for protection during war or adornment in times of peace. 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 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.”
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