«Open Source Communities» By BellTower Wins Grand Prix In Lexus Design Award 2020

TOKYO, Sept. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lexus International has announced that BellTower from Kenya is the Grand Prix winner of the Lexus Design Award 2020. BellTower’s entry, entitled «Open Source Communities,» was selected for the coveted award from among 2,042 total submissions from 79 countries. Judging criteria for this 8th edition of the Award were based on the three key principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate in the…

TOKYO, Sept. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Lexus International has announced that BellTower from Kenya is the Grand Prix winner of the Lexus Design Award 2020. BellTower’s entry, entitled «Open Source Communities,» was selected for the coveted award from among 2,042 total submissions from 79 countries. Judging criteria for this 8th edition of the Award were based on the three key principles of the Lexus brand: Anticipate, Innovate and Captivate in the quest for a Better Tomorrow.

The winning design «Open Source Communities» addresses challenges often found in developing countries by using smart open-source planning to design affordable communities with sustainable clean water resources. Accepting the award,  John Brian Kamau said » It was a great honor for us as BellTower, to be one of the 6 finalists and then win the Grand Prix of Lexus Design Award 2020. Our journey began with many challenges. However, we persevered to showcase our ambitious concept. Our experience has taught us invaluable lifelong lessons. All our future designs will be aligned with the key principles we learned as part of the Lexus family.»

Considering this year’s unique circumstances, Lexus innovated to create its first ever virtual jury as part of this process that supports and nurtures the next generation of creative talent. The Grand Prix winner was announced after each of the six international finalists presented to our panel of esteemed judges explaining how they would create a Better Tomorrow. The program’s four mentors, who supported and guided the finalists for six months, were also on hand for the grand finale of the Lexus Design Award 2020.

Announcing the panel’s decision, program judge and Studio Gang Founding Principal Jeanne Gang said, «At different moments in time, design has celebrated bold aesthetics, extreme functionality, and even humor and wit. But today, with our world plagued by the enormous issues of climate change and social inequality, there is a design imperative for systemic design solutions. The Grand-Prix winner expands our definition of design to include systems of finance for community projects and engages the critical role clean drinking water plays in citizens’ ability to thrive. By addressing the way that the project will come into being and be sustained economically, the designers broaden our thinking about what design is and could be. While the project is an apparatus to collect and store rainwater for safe drinking, it is also a financial game plan for empowering a community.»

Lexus sincerely thanks the six finalists of the Lexus Design Award 2020 for their hard work and is grateful for the passion and commitment of our judges; Paola Antonelli, Jeanne Gang, John Maeda, and Simon Humphries; and mentors; Joe Doucet, Bethan Gray, Philippe Malouin, and Shohei Shigematsu.

The trophy presented to the winner was designed by Hideki Yoshimoto, a winner of the Lexus Design Award 2013 and now an established professional designer himself based in London. In Yoshimoto’s words, «This trophy will be the face of the Award for years to come, so I tried to create a simple, dignified form, free of affectation, in a design where boldness and subtlety coexist. Artisans carve the trophy from smoke-seasoned wood and lacquer made in the traditional Kawatsura style from Akita Prefecture in Japan. Handcrafting each trophy imbues it with heart and soul to resonate with the winner’s creative passion.»

For more information, please visit LexusDesignAward.com

Lexus Design Award 2021 is open for entries until October 11. Please note the details at our website, below.
Official Hashtag: #LexusDesignAward


Lexus launched in 1989 with a flagship sedan and a guest experience that helped define the premium automotive industry. In 1998, Lexus introduced the luxury crossover category with the launch of the Lexus RX. The luxury hybrid sales leader, Lexus delivered the world’s first luxury hybrid and has since sold over 1.5 million hybrid vehicles.

A global luxury automotive brand with an unwavering commitment to bold, uncompromising design, exceptional craftsmanship, and exhilarating performance, Lexus has developed its lineup to meet the needs of the next generation of global luxury guests and is currently available in over 90 countries worldwide.

Lexus associates/team members across the world are dedicated to crafting amazing experiences that are uniquely Lexus, and that excite and change the world.


First launched in 2013, the Lexus Design Award is an international design competition that targets up-and-coming creators from around the world. The award seeks to foster the growth of ideas that contribute to society by supporting designers and creators whose works can help to shape a better future. It provides a unique opportunity for each finalist to work with a globally recognized designer as a mentor to create prototypes of their designs, and then exhibit them at one of the design calendar’s most important events.





Media Contacts

Corey Proffitt
East Coast Communications


Title of work


Biocraft materials combine natural biopolymers with emerging technology to produce materials with advanced capabilities that better our health and the environment. They are intended to replace the inert products in our daily lives with ones that actively engage with their surroundings by removing CO2 from the air and disseminating nutrients.


Sutherlin Santo

(Paul Sutherlin Santo, Garrett Sutherlin Santo)



Paul and Garrett Sutherlin Santo are designers from Downtown Los Angeles. Their work seeks to project a future where design’s connection to nature and technology are symmetrical by exploring the relationship of emerging digital processes, ecologically engaged materials, and traditional techniques.

Title of work


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. By the implementation of sensors and kinetic mechanisms, the cloud will follow the visitor’s breath. The membrane rhythm gradually accelerates or decelerates guiding the occupant to inhale/exhale more slowly.

Name (Country)

Théophile Peju & Salvatore Cicero

(Théophile Peju (France), Salvatore Cicero (Italy))

Based in United Kingdom

Théophile Peju & Salvatore Cicero are architectural designers based in London. They graduated from the Bartlett School of Architecture – UCL, where they pursued research on textile composite materials. Their design approach, through hands-on experience, combines traditional craftsmanship and innovative robotic fabrication techniques.

Title of work

Flash Pak

Flash Pak, installed on lamp posts, makes life jackets easily accessible and provides protection to people in high-risk flooding areas. By utilizing the natural buoyancy of the life jacket, it allows the life vest to rise up to the water’s surface for easy access regardless of how high the water is.



Yaokun Wu


China / Based in USA

Yaokun Wu is an industrial design student at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. He feels grateful for everything he has and wishes to use design to help people who need it most. He believes design is everywhere, but only that which brings people warmth will never be forgotten.


Title of work


 L.I.C.K. is a portable body cleaner that will help people who are unable to use a bath.. The device has a soft cleaning surface like a cat’s tongue similar to how cats clean their body from impurities. This cleaning surface has papillae with a U-shaped cavity, with each papillae having the same hardness, going from hard on the tip to soft at the root, just like a cat’s tongue.


Irina Samoilova



Irina Samoilova is a product & furniture designer. She is currently studying for a master’s degree at Moscow State Stroganov Academy of Design and Applied Art in the furniture design department. Before starting a new design, she first studies animal shapes and how such forms already work in nature.


Title of work

Open Source Communities

Open Source Communities is a proposal outlining an efficient way of designing communities in developing countries based on using smart open-source plans. The designer’s endeavor is to see how these designs may be refined to create a water resource center that is sustainable.



(John Brian Kamau, Joyce Wairimu Gachiri, Ian Githegi Kamau, Esther Wanjiku Kamau and Arvin Booker Kamau)



BellTower was established in 2014 with the vision of using open source systems and technologies to solve problems. They came together to create a team with skills in Risk Management, Information Technology, Design, Project Management and Strategy to build an open-source community model for personal, corporate and industrial needs.

Title of work


Pursewit, a newly designed sewing machine which simplifies  use for the visually impaired. Operation is made more intuitive and tactile, aiding in the cumbersome process of sewing. It provides an opportunity for the visually impaired to gain economic stability which contributes to society as a whole.


Aqsa Ajmal



Aqsa Ajmal, Industrial Designer, graduated from National University of Sciences and Technology. She is steered by her belief in design as a problem-solving tool, devising relationships between ideas and reality. Through her tangible interaction and firsthand experiments in design, she looks forward to improving connections between people and products.




Paola Antonelli is Senior Curator of Architecture & Design at The Museum of Modern Art, as well as MoMA’s founding Director of Research & Development. Her goal is to promote design’s understanding, until its positive influence on the world is universally acknowledged. Her work investigates design’s impact on everyday experience, often including overlooked objects and practices, and combining design, architecture, art, science and technology.

She has curated shows, written books, lectured worldwide, and taught in several schools, including Harvard and UCLA. Following the XXII Triennale di Milano––her 2019 Broken Nature, devoted to the idea of restorative design–– she has opened at MoMA the exhibition Material Ecology, on the work of architect Neri Oxman. She is currently working on several new sessions of her MoMA R&D Salons; and on the Instagram series @design.emergency––conceived with design critic Alice Rawsthorn––devoted to the role of design in the Covid-19 pandemic.




Jeanne Gang, FAIA, is the founding principal and partner of internationally renowned architecture and urban design practice Studio Gang. Recognized for an approach that expands beyond architecture’s conventional boundaries to foreground relationships between individuals, communities, and their environment, Jeanne has a diverse, award-winning portfolio of work throughout the Americas and Europe. These include Aqua Tower in Chicago, an expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the new United States Embassy in Brasilia. A MacArthur Fellow and Professor in Practice of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Jeanne this year was named one of the most influential people in the world by TIME Magazine and won her largest commission to date: the 2.2 million sf O’Hare Global Terminal.



John Maeda is an American technologist, designer, engineer, artist, investor, author, and teacher. He was recently appointed chief experience officer at Publicis Sapient, the technology consulting and delivery arm of communications and marketing conglomerate Publicis. He has held positions with Automattic, the parent company of WordPress.com; the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins; led research at the MIT Media Lab; and served as president of the Rhode Island School of Design. Named as one of the «75 Most Influential People of the 21st Century» by Esquire, Maeda draws on his diverse background as an MIT-trained engineer, award-winning designer, and executive leader to bring people and ideas together at scale. He is the author of several celebrated books, including The Laws of Simplicity and Redesigning Leadership and How to Speak Machine published in November 2019. He has appeared as a speaker all over the world, from Davos to Beijing to São Paulo to New York, and his talks for TED have received millions of views.




Simon Humphries is Head of Toyota & Lexus Global Design. He was appointed to oversee design for both brands in 2018.  As Head of Lexus Global Design Humphries seeks to define Lexus’ unique values in the form of a brand philosophy, incorporating a clear cultural reference to Lexus’ Japanese heritage and building a design direction that is relevant to users around the world.

Humphries joined the company in 1994. His many roles in leadership and advanced design include defining the signature spindle grille that has become an icon for the Lexus brand.  In 2016 he became President of ED2 (Toyota Europe Design Development) where his team spearheaded development of mobility concepts such as the Toyota e-Palette concept as part of the brand’s transition from «automotive company» to «mobility company.» Humphries began his career in design in 1988 when he was awarded the Royal Society of Arts Bursary Prize for Product Design in the UK.  The award gave him the opportunity to work for Sony, which jump started his passion for living and working in Japan. In his spare time Humphries enjoys carpentry and is restoring a 100-year old Japanese farmhouse. 




 A designer, entrepreneur, inventor and creative director, Joe Doucet is one of the most sought-after creative talents working in America today. His work deftly hybridizes function and visual appeal while conveying layers of meaning and message. Doucet believes that design and, more importantly, a designer’s thought process can play a larger role in innovation and problem solving, as well as aesthetics. He currently holds numerous patents for his designs and inventions.

Doucet’s work has been exhibited globally and has received numerous international awards, including a World Technology Award for Design Innovation and multiple Good Design Awards. Doucet was named the 2017 Winner of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award as Product Designer—the highest honor in his field. He is also Designer of the Year 2019 finalist by Dezeen, and a recipient of Fast Company’s Most Important Design Companies of 2019.




London-based Bethan Gray is one the UK’s most celebrated furniture and homeware designers, having been awarded four Elle Decoration British Design Awards including the coveted Best British Designer. Her work features extensively in global media; and she has exhibited in London, Milan, Paris, New York and Dubai.

Bethan’s ancestors went on an incredible journey across continents – Bethan has since visited many of the places they passed through, inspired by a love of travel, art and culture. Today, her mission is to bring contemporary relevance to the traditional techniques from these regions – keeping both cultural narratives and craft skills alive. She believes in the power to tell stories through craft and design and has formed joint ventures based on mutual trust and respect that support over 400 master crafts people globally.


Established in 2008, Bethan Gray Design creates luxury handcrafted collections of furniture and home accessories that are sold through global retailers such as Harrods, Liberty, Lane Crawford. Within her own practice in London, she nurtures, connects and encourages new design talent and mentors upcoming female designers. She has recently launched a Prize for Women in Craft with Cardiff Metropolitan University where she is an honorary fellow.




British-Canadian Philippe Malouin holds a bachelor’s degree in Design from the Design Academy Eindhoven. He has also studied at the École Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle in Paris and the University of Montreal.

He set up his studio in 2008 after working for English designer Tom Dixon. Philippe has also taught at the Royal College of Art in London between 2012-2015. He is also the director of POST-OFFICE, the architectural and interior design practice.

His diverse portfolio includes tables, rugs, chairs, lights, art objects and installations. Philippe’s client list includes SCP, Marsotto Edizioni, Resident, OTHR, Hem, Ace hotel, Matter-Made, Established & Sons, Roll & Hill, 1882 ltd., Kvadrat, Umbra Shift, Caesarstone, IZÉ, Swarovski, Bloomberg, Aesop and Touch Digital.

Philippe is represented by Salon 94 Design gallery in New York City. He has recently won the Wallpaper* Magazine ‘designer of the year’ award. Philippe lives and works in London, where he operates his design studio.




Shohei Shigematsu joined OMA in 1998, has led the New York office since 2006, and became a partner in 2008. He has recently completed the renovation of Sotheby’s New York headquarters, luxury high-rise towers in San Francisco and Miami, and OMA’s first ground-up building in New York City, a residential complex at 121 East 22nd Street. Sho has successfully completed designs for cultural venues including the Quebec National Beaux Arts Museum and the Faena Arts Center in Miami Beach. Currently in progress are the expansion of Buffalo’s Albright-Knox-Gundlach Art Museum and a second building for the New Museum. Sho has also designed exhibitions for Prada, the Venice Architecture Biennale, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Park Avenue Armory, and Dior’s first US retrospective at the Denver Art Museum and Dallas Museum of Art. He oversees OMA’s projects in Japan, including a new business center in Fukuoka (2021) and OMA’s first mixed-use tower in Tokyo for Mori Building Co, Ltd. (2023).

A design critic at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Sho has lectured at TED and Wired Japan conference, and at universities throughout the world.





Hideki Yoshimoto is a designer and engineer, working on a wide range of creative and technology projects. He studied aeronautics and astronautics at the University of Tokyo and carried out PhD research at the Royal College of Art, before founded TANGENT, his own lighting brand in 2015 in London. His projects and research have received several international awards in both of design and engineering, such as Lexus Design Award’s Grand Prix, Red Dot Design Concept’s Best of the Best Award, and Best Conference Award from Japanese Society of Artificial Intelligence. He was also appointed as a visiting associate professor at Osaka University of Arts in Japan in 2018.


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