Oshinowo and Amuah created the Egaro face shield with car brand Lexus as part of its Freedom to Move project at Design Miami. The brief was to respond to 2020, prompting the duo to look into the design of face coverings, which have become ubiquitous following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our research led us to think about the head in history and how today the utilitarian face mask is our form of protection – so why not make that spectacular?” Oshinowo told Dezeen.
Two curved brass plates form the shield over the face and are decorated with a stencil design that is intended to reference an African fractal rhythm and breathing.
“The pattern that is etched onto the visor is called Breathe, which is inspired by the pulmonary veins of the lungs,” the two explained.
Worn like a headband, the face shield has a 3D-printed white nylon frame that extends in a cross over the front. The vertical part is wave shaped and punctuated by two bars at the end, while the horizontal part is curved and ends in two downward-facing bars.
Oshinowo and Amuah worked on the project in Lagos, Nigeria, where Oshinowo is based and runs her architecture studio, to create Egaro, which is named after a site in Niger.
“Egaro takes its name from the site at Termit in eastern Niger, where archaeological evidence confirms that Africa had independently invented its own iron technology 5,000 years ago,” the designers explained. “It is a celebration of the discoveries and advancement that originated in the continent.”
They also created a transparent version of the Egaro, in which the face shield is made from acrylic. Rather than white, the decorative frame is coloured bronze.
Egaro is one of three designs the duo created to explore face masks as fashion item in contemporary life. The others include Ògún, which sees the decorated bronze plate turned into a visor, Pioneer Futures, which has an oversized pleated collar, in either leather and suede, that wraps around a transparent globe.
“Freedom to Move has been created conscious of a specific period, in our collective history,” Oshinowo and Amuah said. “The three headpiece typologies have been intentionally designed as beautiful objects that inspire desire, to be worn. As they say, ‘fashion repeats itself’ and our design looked back at history and how the head has always been a focal point for adornment and protection.”
“The use of materials allows the designs to oscillate between jewellery and fashion,” they continued. “With the bronze neck brace of Ògún, the metallic mirrored visors of Ògún and Egaro and the leather and suede capes of Pioneer Futures – all the designs play on elegance, ergonomics and celebration.”
A number of other projects have experimented with making face masks and shields fashionable, as personal protective equipment (PPE) becomes part of daily life in the wake of the pandemic.
French fashion house Louis Vuitton designed a coronavirus face shield-cum-cap featuring its signature LV monogram, while British brand Burberry released a face mask with its signature check pattern on antimicrobial fabric.
Oshinowo, Amuah and Lexus unveiled Freedom To Move during this year’s Design Miami, which will run from 27 November to 6 December online and in-person in the Miami Design District.
Called Dezeen x Design Miami, it included conversations between Dezeen’s founder and editor-in-chief Marcus Fairs and Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao, Austrian design studio Mischer’Traxler and Miami Design District founder and CEO Craig Robins, which are all available to watch online.
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