‘If we must wear masks, then let them be glorious!’

Designed by architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo and textile and furniture designer Chrissa Amuah in collaboration with Lexus, this collection of headpieces merges concepts of protection, ornamentation, functionality and celebration, drawing inspiration from a mix of cultural influences

Two women with different materials face mask shield
Freedom to Move by Tosin Oshinowo and Chrissa Amuah for Lexus features headpieces that offer an artistic alternative to the utilitarian face coverings. The three pieces (pictured here: Ogun) employ materials such as bronze, brass, leather and acrylic, as well as intricate hand beading, laser etching and embroidery using the traditionally West African tinko method.
(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Masks have become a ubiquitous health necessity. Formerly only commonplace in most Asian cultures and used as a symbol of courtesy, if one should be experiencing a malady, the face mask is now globally recognised as a form of protection, while also signifying civic responsibility.

This multicultural dialogue forms the basis of a conceptual design collaboration between the architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo, textile and furniture designer Chrissa Amuah and Lexus, who have come together to create a collection of masks designed as headpieces, unveiled at Design Miami (opens in new tab). Exploring the ideas of protection, ornamentation, functionality and celebration, the headpieces present an artistic alternative to the utilitarian face coverings in a move that celebrates the world’s collective desire to move through the pandemic together. Named ‘Freedom to Move’, the collaboration also draws from a mix of cultural influences, identifying unexpected similarities and dialogues in materials, textures, colours and craftsmanship.

Textile and furniture designer Chrissa Amuah and architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo

Textile and furniture designer Chrissa Amuah, left, and architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo, right.

(Image credit: Spark Creative)

With human movement greatly redefined this year, Oshinowo and Amuah took the opportunity to reconsider the functionality of masks today, against the traditions of protection and adornment across global cultures. ‘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 Amuah.
 
With Oshinowo based in Lagos, Nigeria and the collaboration taking place for the most part there, the designers put the African context at the fore. Lexus’ key design philosophies, such as the Japanese notions of omotenashi (exceptional hospitality) and takumi (expert craftsmanship), were also integral to the creative process.
 
The collection’s three mark designs, named ‘Egaro’, ‘Pioneer Futures’ and ‘Ògún’, each employ a wide variety of materials, such as bronze, brass, leather and acrylic, with further details such as intricate hand beading, laser etching and embroidery using the traditionally West African tinko method. Featuring aspects crafted by traditional artisans, fused with 3D printed elements, each headpiece is a poetic fusion of past and present. Each mask also features transparent panels, which facilitate communication – a common frustration experienced with most masks today.

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(Image credit: Kris Tamburello)

Egaro mask design by Oshinowo and Amuah for Lexus

The Egaro mask design by Oshinowo and Amuah for Lexus

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

‘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,’ reads a design statement by the pair. ‘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.’

Covid mask by Tosin Oshinowo And Chrissa Amuah Inspired By Lexus

The Egaro face mask, ’a celebration of the discoveries and advancement that originated in [Africa]. 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.’

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

The Pioneer Futures face mask

The Pioneer Futures face mask nods to the age of enlightenment and exploration of the unknown. This mask, the designers explains, merges elements inspired by Western Europe and technological advancement and futurism. The collar's hand-embroidered pattern 'references African fractals that make up mathematical connotations,' explain the designers. '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'.

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Covid mask By Tosin Oshinowo And Chrissa Amuah Inspired By Lexus

The Egaro mask by Tosin Oshinowo And Chrissa Amuah, inspired By Lexus.

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Woman wearing ogun face mask.

Another view of the Ogun face mask.

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Woman with pioneer futures face mask featuring hand beaded details over a teal colored leather

Another view of the Pioneer Futures face mask, featuring hand-beaded details over a teal colored leather.

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Egaro mask design by Oshinowo and Amuah for Lexus

(Image credit: Mark Cocksedge)

Textile and furniture designer Chrissa Amuah and architect and designer Tosin Oshinowo


(Image credit: Spark Creative)

INFORMATION

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Pei-Ru Keh is the US Editor at Wallpaper*. Born and raised in Singapore, she has been a New Yorker since 2013. Pei-Ru has held various titles at Wallpaper* since she joined in 2007. She currently reports on design, art, architecture, fashion, beauty and lifestyle happenings in the United States, both in print and digitally. Pei-Ru has taken a key role in championing diversity and representation within Wallpaper's content pillars and actively seeks out stories that reflect a wide range of perspectives. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children, and is currently learning how to drive.

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