The judges and mentors for the Lexus Design Award have been announced today, with Japanese architect Shigeru Ban joining the distinguished panel for the first time.

Ban is renowned for changing ideas about architecture with his ingenious use of lightweight, unconventional and lightweight materials in his work, in particular bamboo and paper. He joins returning award judges Paola Antonelli, curator of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); Birgit Lohman, designer, product developer and Chief Editor of designboom; design journalist and commentator Alice Rawsthorn; and Yoshihiro Sawa, President of Lexus International, who started his motor industry career in production and design.

Now in its sixth year, the Lexus Design Award is established as a prestigious international competition which seeks to discover and nurture a new generation of talent. It attracts thousands of aspiring creatives from around the world and inspires them to produce unconventional design ideas to make the world better.

The judges will select 12 winning finalists who will have their work showcased by Lexus at Milan Design Week 2018. Among these, four will have the distinction of being mentored by some of the world’s leading designers and architects to develop their concepts into prototypes. They will also receive funding for their project of up to three million yen (approximately £21,000).

The four prototype finalists will enjoy a hands-on experience working with pioneers and well-known creators in a number of exciting fields. One of the best-known Japanese architects today, Sou Fujimoto, creates futuristic structures incorporating natural and architectural elements.

The Italian design duo, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin, make up Amsterdam-based Studio Formafantasma. Their work has been presented and published internationally at museums such as New York’s MoMA and London’s Victoria and Albert, and they teach design in various universities and institutions in Europe.

Contemporary lighting designer Lindsey Adelman skyrocketed to fame with her branching chandelier designs, and now leads a team of designers, glass artists and craftspeople in her studios in New York and Los Angeles.

New York-based designer and art director Jessica Walsh has won awards from most major design competitions, and she was awarded Forbes Magazine’s “30 under 30 top creatives designing the future.”

Entries to the Lexus Design Award 2018 competition are being accepted up to 8 October. The 12 finalists will be announced in January 2018 and the Grand Prix winner will be announced on 16 April 2018, during Milan Design Week.