Strength in unity unlocks new possibilities and, Lexus unveils what’s possible when the luxury automaker, adidas, adidas S.E.E.D, Calty Design Research and 3D printing company Carbon join forces. As a result, the all-new Lexus RX 500h F SPORT is transformed into an eye-catching crossover inspired by Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” now playing only in theaters.
To help celebrate the recent launch of adidas’ “Wakanda Forever Collection,” the team at adidas sought to bring their “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”-inspired designs into the automotive space. Created for the best athletes in the world, this performance sportswear embodies what it means to be Wakandan and explores the question, “What if Wakanda had a national athletic team?” The vehicle wrap builds on the custom identity of the fictional African nation as envisioned by adidas, creating an automotive identity that matches the fashion collection.
“The all-new RX 500h is part of our expanding Lexus Electrified portfolio with evolved innovative technology that elevates the driver’s experience,” said Michael Moore, general manager, Lexus International. “There’s an athleticism in the performance of the RX that makes it a perfect fit to join the ‘Wakanda Forever’ team.”
The re-imagined exterior of the RX features the Wakandan-inspired print and purple colorway used throughout the adidas sportswear collection. A diamond pattern inlayed across the hood is inspired by the Black Panther’s claw necklace. Gold details, a tie to the new Black Panther’s suit, accent the exterior, with unique “F” center caps, F SPORT on the wheels and Lexus badging that are reimagined using the fictional Wakandan alphabet. The word “Vibe-Branium,” also spelled in the Wakandan alphabet, is added to the rear badging as part of its unique name: the Lexus RX 500h Vibe-Branium AWD DIRECT4.
Beyond the customized exterior wrap, the students at adidas S.E.E.D (School for Experiential Education in Design) embraced the challenge to reimagine the all-new Lexus RX interior by using the much-anticipated sequel as its source of inspiration.
“Lexus is passionate about fostering future designers,” said Sabina Charfauros-Redmon, creative lead, Lexus International. “We see adidas S.E.E.D as representing a new normal that opens doors for BIPOC women in the design space. It’s a special moment when young creators are given the opportunity to stretch their creativity beyond their own comprehension. Lexus believes in this narrative and is excited to be a part of this process.”
To help guide the students through the design process, Calty Design Research led the students through a series of workshops exploring automotive design, Lexus design, creative processes, color and materials and the power of collaboration.
“Lexus, adidas and Wakanda Forever may seem like they come from totally different worlds but the thread that draws everything together is the pursuit and leadership in unique storytelling and innovative technology,” stated Alex Shen, chief designer at Calty Design Research. “Because of this common thread, the S.E.E.D. designers have such a unique and exciting task ahead of them to create something really artful and cool. It’s a real pleasure and honor for us to witness all the creativity, enthusiasm and collaborative thinking and execution from the S.E.E.D. designers.”
“Collaboration is one of our core values at S.E.E.D. We believe that innovation exists at the intersection of creativity, collaboration, diversity, inclusion and equity,” adds Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson, director, Design Education & Growth | S.E.E.D., adidas. “A critical aspect of our curriculum is ‘open-source’ product creation where we team up with experts across various industries to educate and co-create with our S.E.E.D. designers to bring unique products to life. So, collaborating with Lexus, ‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,’ Carbon, Calty and Annex to design the Lexus Vibe-Branium Direct4 RX 500h was such a transformative experience for our students. The end result is a powerful example of what can happen when we leverage the ‘collective genius’ across disciplines.”
Carbon, an adidas partner since 2017, has revolutionized athletic footwear by providing the technology platform for the production of adidas 4D midsoles. Carbon DLS™ (Digital Light Synthesis™) technology is pioneered by 3D printing specialists aligning innovation and sustainability in collaboration with adidas to create a portfolio of athletic footwear that meet specific performance needs. In addition, Carbon’s footprint on the silver screen contributing to costumes, animatronics and other worldly environments make them the perfect partner to help realize the S.E.E.D student’s interior vision.
As part of Lexus’s mission to mine budding talent in the creative realm, versatile multi-hyphenated visual storyteller Cami Thomas will document the collaboration with a featurette which is set to release in mid-November on digital platforms.
The custom build will feature an interior re-imagined with future-focused designs, textures and materials. Using the modern luxury of the latest RX as a canvas, adidas’s custom Wakanda-inspired tribal gold print covers sections of the seating surfaces and are featured prominently on the seat bolsters in particular. The same pattern is applied to the door panel inserts and in purple sections of the steering wheel. The F SPORT door sill plate is translated in the Wakandan alphabet along with “Wakanda Forever”, which is embroidered on the steering wheel. Key tactile areas such as the steering wheel pad and front and rear headrests are covered in the Carbon 3D printed energy-returning athletic shoe mid-sole material used in the adidas 4D-FWD. The front head rests include Lexus’s signature emblem and the rear center head rest houses adidas’s iconic logo. Meanwhile, surfaces around the shifter are decorated in laser-cut wood and gold trim that accents the interior to help create a uniquely Wakandan-inspired in-car environment.
To celebrate this moment, the powerhouse brands dropped a limited release T-Shirt designed by the students at adidas S.E.E.D. The exclusive T-shirt will be available to select influencers. The front of the T-Shirt includes an African Proverb written in Wakandan (“Educate a Woman, Educate a Nation”) stylized in traditional Japanese format, tategaki. The back of the T-Shirt pays homage to mineral rich Wakanda’s Vibranium that has helped shaped its future focused society through a periodic table transcribed in Wakandan. In addition, the T-Shirt’s wash tag houses emblems from the super power team, LEXUS, adidas, adidas S.E.E.D, Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and Carbon.
In the hands of veteran custom car builder Gordon Ting, he helps fully realize the custom “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”-inspired Lexus RX inside and out.