Milan, Italy - Lexus announced today that an elite judging committee has named AGAR PLASTICITY by AMAM the Grand Prix winner of the Lexus Design Award 2016.

AGAR PLASTICITY is a project exploring how agar, a gelatinous material obtained from the marine algae, can be used as an environmentally friendly packaging materials alternative to plastic.

“This is a bold and ambitious experiment, which aims to address one of the biggest pollution problems of our time. The designers have made tremendous progress during the course of the award cycle, particularly in devising a wide range of possible practical applications for the material. Their success in doing so gives us confidence in their ability to tackle the many challenges and complexities they will face in continuing the development of the project.” said Alice Rawsthorn, Lexus Design Award 2016 judge.

The award was delivered to the winner by Tokuo Fukuichi, President of Lexus International, during the opening cocktail of the annual design exhibit of the brand at the 2016 Milan Design Week, ‘LEXUS – AN ENCOUNTER WITH ANTICIPATION’.

AMAM is a design group formed in 2015 by Kosuke Araki, Noriaki Maetani and Akira Muraoka who studied at Product Design Department, Tama Art University during same period. Also, Araki (Design Products) and Maetani (Innovation Design Engineering) have acquired a Master at Royal College of Art in the same year.


“Seaweed-derived agar is traditionally consumed as food in Japan, and used in scientific and medical fields worldwide. Sold in a dry state, agar shows porous, feathery structure and is very light despite its volume. We have taken notice of these features and have been exploring its possibility as packaging material. Goods are usually shipped wrapped in plastic materials. Once unwrapped, they soon become waste or are collected to be recycled. Considering the raw materials and energy for processing, this situation is undesirable. Anticipating effective and sustainable utilization of natural resources has become more and more indispensable. Believing biodegradable substitutes to plastics are needed, we took this opportunity to tackle this seemingly ignored problem. Agar can be extracted by boiling specific kinds of red algae and then dehydrating the soup. Its resultant state depends on the ways of dehydration, and the types of red algae. For a soft cushioning structure, it's frozen, for stiff film-like state, it's compressed. Because agar is also moldable, it was proposed not only as a cushioning material, but also as packaging material. We have also explored the possibility of an agar-derived plastic material. After use, agar products can be disposed of in an environmentally-friendly way. It can serve as a material to improve the water-retention property of soil, and should it drift in the sea, it would not harm marine lives.“

For the Lexus Design Award contest, AMAM was mentored by product and furniture designer Max Lamb.

The Lexus Design Award provides an opportunity for twelve finalists and their works to receive an introduction to the design community and beyond at Milan Design Week. This year's Lexus Design Award drew 1,232 submissions representing a wide variety of highly innovative ideas from 73 countries. In keeping with the theme of "Anticipation", many submissions were designed as yet unseen or undefined concepts that are likely to be realized in the near future.

Four finalists, including AMAM, produced prototypes of their designs under the mentorship of globally recognized creators.

The Grand Prix work is displayed, from Tuesday, April 12 to 17at Spazio Lexus in Milan (Via Tortona 32) together with the other 11 finalists’ projects.