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robertogreco : muji   21

MUJI’s design philosophy is emptiness, not minimalism, says Kenya Hara — Quartzy
"Ku is not a poverty or absence of ideas or materials. Indeed, it’s a much richer concept than the Western understanding of “emptiness.” It’s a stance—a readiness to receive inspiration from outside. “To offer an empty vessel is to pose a single question and to be wholly ready to accept the huge variety of answers,” says Hara. ”Emptiness is itself a possibility of being filled.”"
ku  japan  japanese  kenyahara  muji  emptiness  minimalism  2017 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Muji Paradox - Racked
"Muji and I, we have a routine.

Whenever I’m feeling a little edgy or in need of some self-care — which, in 2016, has been unrelentingly often — I wander into the minimalist Japanese retailer’s warm and pleasingly-lit walls to browse the rows of desk supplies and sensible button-down shirts. Often, I’ll purchase something — some pens perhaps, or an elderflower-scented travel candle — but the total rarely exceeds the cost of a lunch.

Usually one to exhibit a reasonable amount of self-control when it comes to buying things I don’t need, I am woefully powerless when it comes to these micro purchases at Muji. Earlier this year, on the first day of a three-week trip to Japan, I squealed with delight when I found that they actually sold Muji products in one of the major convenience store chains (quaintly named “Family Mart”), just in case you needed a 20-pack of non-branded Q-tips along with your machine-dispensed iced coffee. As I wandered through the retailer’s five-floor outlet in Tokyo’s Shibuya neighborhood, I felt a silent kinship with the kind of Japanese shopper who would intently examine the seam on a heather gray camisole before purchasing it. You wouldn’t be caught dead owning a novelty 5K race T-shirt, I thought. Neither would I.

Indeed, it wasn’t until this trip to Japan — a country that has a knack for turning even the most ascetic person into a rabid consumerist, hence the success of Marie Kondo — that I began to see the Muji paradox as clear as a stain on one of its organic linen tunics: that I can feel so strongly about a brand that goes out of its way to be dogmatically un-branded seems a kind of magic trick of capitalism that no other retailer pulls off so ably.

Because here’s the thing: I don’t need the things I buy at Muji, but they do make my life measurably better, if only infinitesimally. Things like the mini travel soaps with the accompanying plastic box, which eliminates an unnecessary liquid from my carry-on-only packing system. The mini lint roller, which folds up into its own case and fits in a handbag so my coat never has errant hair on it. The right angle socks, which I’m convinced are the only no-show socks on the planet that can comfortably be worn with Vans slip-on shoes. The transparent plastic zipper pouch for carry-on liquids, which I smugly pull out when attempting to bypass London Heathrow’s liquid-obsessive security line. In a cold, cruel world full of big problems, these tiny victories add up — which is perhaps why I come back for refills of my favorite items again and again.

The Muji effect extends beyond my own life, too. I would be lying if I said that, upon seeing the bedroom of a romantic interest for the first time, that person’s stock does not immediately rise if their bed is outfitted in muted-toned Muji sheets. Similarly, a person who has a cup full of Muji 0.5 mm pens on their desk not only broadcasts an affinity for fine writing implements, but also an attention to detail that I’m likely to appreciate. A stranger who strides through a throng of holiday shoppers with a single large carrier bag from Muji somehow seems exempt from perpetuating capitalism and all of its ills, even though they are.

Indeed, Muji espouses a kind of pious minimalist ethos that draws in a particular type of discerning shopper (me) who, instead of buying more hangers, gets rid of clothes to fit the amount of hangers they already own. The promise that, with each new visit, I may find an ingenious solution for one of modern life’s subtle but vexing inconveniences excites me. It makes me feel that perhaps I’m not being extravagant, but rather sensible, by paying Muji a visit every now and then.

Ryan Patel is a retail analyst and consultant who helps brands scale internationally. He says the cult of Muji is based on simplicity, consistency, and the idea that the stuff is not screaming at you to buy it, but rather patiently waiting for you to find it.

“The design of the stores has a warm appeal. It creates a feeling that’s non-intrusive, it doesn’t pressure you to spend money,” says Patel. “Plus, you’re shopping for an everyday item, you’re not shopping for a high-ticket item — there are a lot of consumers who are just looking for something that is what it looks like. Muji doesn’t need to have a brand name because the brand name is the store. They’ve parlayed this simplicity into credibility.”

The credibility has proved lucrative, of course. After all, Muji may want to reduce the clutter in my apartment, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t want its highly functional stuff to be in as many apartments as possible. Though it only has 11 stores in North America (compared to 227 in East Asia and 61 in Europe), its plans for expansion are decidedly not low-key. In its 2016 annual report, it notes that it hopes to expand from 24 to 34 countries and regions worldwide, with a particular focus on China, where it hopes to have 200 stores by the end of this fiscal year.

And yet, Patel is right. Everything in Muji is how I want my life to be all the time: clean, orderly, soothingly-lit, warm, in a neutral color palette, and non-intrusive. Even the salespeople don’t bother you unless you ask them to. Add in the mission creep aspect of the operation — I walk in to buy pens and walk out having just bought essential oils, nail clippers, and a normcore gray sweatshirt — and you see why its self-stated mission of “creating a pleasant life” is an ingenious way to bolster its bottom line.

Alas, we all know a pleasant life can’t be found inside the walls of any retailer, even a Japanese one. And indeed, it was during my trip to Japan that I began to see Muji as emblematic of — rather than exempt from — the kind of consumerist fever that makes Tokyo a really fun yet financially dangerous city to go shopping in. However, even though Muji’s clever capitalistic jig is up, it’s still unlikely I’ll put an end to my self-soothing shopping routine any time soon. After all, Donald Trump is almost president, and I like the socks too much."
muji  design  rosiespinks  qualityoflife  via:jarrettfuller  minimalism  2016  ryanpatel  simplicity  consistency  credibility  retail 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Anybody want to live rent-free in a house in a Japanese beach town for two years? | RocketNews24
[images throughout]

"Non-Japanese applicants also being accepted for unique housing program from interior goods brand Mujirushi.

It’s hard to find a much classier town in Japan than Kamakura. Located on the coast of Kanagawa Prefecture, the city is most famous for its Great Buddha statue, seen in countless travel and cultural guidebooks, but that’s only the most well-known of the many historically significant sites in temple– and shrine-studded Kamakura. The close proximity of the mountains and the sea make the town a great place for nature lovers, yet it’s still less than a half-hour by train from cosmopolitan Yokohama, and even Tokyo is under 45 minutes away.

But perhaps the greatest thing about Kamakura is that, if you’re lucky enough to be chosen by interior goods company Mujirushi Ryohin (also known as Muji), you could live there for free.

Mujirushi already sells a wide variety of houseware and appliances, and in recent years it’s dabbled in housing, with its Mado no Ie, or “Window House,” residences that make the use of natural light a major design theme. The company will soon be building a new Window House (similar to the one shown in the video below) in Kamakura, and is looking for someone to live in it.

[video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yir1xX8djb4 ]

You’ll notice we didn’t say “someone to buy” or “someone to rent” it. That’s because the selected applicant will be living in the home for free for two years. You’ll still have to pay for your own utilities and groceries, but you won’t need to give Mujirushi a single yen for use of the house itself.

While the exact floorplan is yet to be finalized, many of the other details are already set. The wood-frame detached home will be two stories tall and have at least 80 square meters (861 square feet) of total floor space. It will be located roughly 15 minutes on foot from Kamakura Station, and include a garden and parking space. Oh, and of course it comes fully furnished with understatedly stylish Mujirushi-brand furniture and appliances.

In exchange for living rent-free, the home’s occupants will be asked to participate in photo shoots, presentations, and feedback programs regarding the project. Mujirushi offers its assurances, however, that the residents’ privacy will be respected, and that no hidden cameras or other monitoring devices of that ilk will be placed in the home.

Mujirushi is also being extremely inclusive regarding who can apply for the home. Families or singles are welcome to throw their hats in the ring, as are groups of friends wanting to live together and pet owners. The company has also stated that non-Japanese applicants are also welcome, although they will need to be proficient in the Japanese language.

Applications can be made here between now and August 31, with the successful candidates moving into their Kamakura home next March."
muji  homes  japan  2016  furniture  housing  mujirushi  kamakura  kanagawa 
august 2016 by robertogreco
The Commercial Zen of Muji - The New Yorker
"But how do you scale an entire company whose philosophy is rooted in judiciousness, and how big is big enough? In 2015, Muji posted an eighteen-per-cent increase in revenue over the year, to $2.14 billion, and a fourteen-per-cent increase in profits, to $196 million, and it aims to continue apace next year. In its annual report, there is a bar graph of net sales over time, with a gray arrow that signifies the future pointing up and to the right, beyond the three-hundred-billion-yen mark (about $2.5 billion). The company hopes to establish a “global brand” with “perpetual growth” and “consistent dividend payout” by the year 2020, which sounds a lot like kaizen, the popular Japanese business principle of continuous improvement. Muji is banking on “the idea that simplicity is not merely modest or frugal, but could possibly be more appealing than luxury.”

Above all, though, Muji is trafficking in fantasy, as the science-fiction writer William Gibson wrote in 2001:
Muji … calls up a wonderful Japan that doesn’t really exist. A Japan of the mind, where even toenail-clippers and plastic coat-hangers possess a Zen purity: functional, minimal, reasonably priced. I would very much like to visit the Japan that Muji evokes. I would vacation there and attain a new serenity, smooth and translucent, in perfect counterpoint to natural fabrics and unbleached cardboard. My toiletries would pretend to be nothing more than what they are, and neither would I.

Anyone who has watched even one season of “Mad Men” knows that fantasy is the basis for the best marketing. What could be cooler than a brand whose branding seems incidental, or better yet, completely organic? The answer, for Muji, is a neat paradox, like a Zen koan: massive minimalism through perpetual growth."
muji  japan  design  retail  2015  williamgibson 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Designing Design – Kenya Hara — The Designer's Review of Books
"If you are a designer involved in the making of objects, it is certainly up there with Papanek’s Design for the Real World as a book that should make you think deeply about your profession. If you are in the digital design world or graphic design or branding, it will make you yearn for materiality and ask yourself how you can bring a stillness of the senses back into an area that feels perpetually hyperactive. You won’t agree with everything Hara has to say, but you will enjoy the journey he takes you on and be wiser for it."
mediocrity  adequacy  muji  tangibility  technology  sustainability  japan  designingdesign  2009  graphicdesign  interactiondesign  reviews  books  design  kenyahara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Theme | Muji Creative Director, Kenya Hara
"I’m not anti-technology; basically I’m concerned with thrilling and inspiring the senses. Human happiness lies in how fully we can savor our living environment. If we can fully perceive and enjoy the world in a newly emerging reality, virtual or not, that’s great. In fact, the term “haptic” is used extensively in virtual reality research. And virtual technology is in its nascent stage; we can’t judge it too harshly. One day—in two or three centuries— we might not be able to tell the difference between virtual and physical reality. But we shouldn’t stay where we are for long, because this technology doesn’t make us feel good."

"The concept of “emptiness” is one of my methods of communication design. I don’t launch a message at my viewers, but instead provide an empty vessel. In turn, I expect them to deposit something there, their own messages or images. This is an important aspect of communication, accepting what the other has to say."
communication  emptiness  interviews  via:tealtan  2005  technology  living  life  senses  haptic  japan  art  design  muji  simplicity  kenyahara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
kenya hara: designing design
"'design, is basically not self-expression. instead, it originates in society. the essence of design lies in the process of discovering
a problem shared by many people and trying to solve it. because the root of the problem is within society, everyone can understand plans for solutions and process for solving the problem, in addition to being able to see the problem from the designer's perspective. design is appealing because the process creates inspiration that is engendered
by this empathy among human beings in our common values and spirituality.'"

"focusing on the purity of form and its meaning, this book brings forth hara's theories and philosophical approach to design,
presented across eight sections: 1. re-design: daily products of the 21st century; 2. haptic: awakening the senses;
3. senseware: medium that intrigues man; 4. white; 5. muji: nothing, yet everything; 6. viewing the world from the tip of asia;
7. exformation: a new information format; and 8. what is design?"
via:tealtan  2012  exformation  white  haptic  theory  values  commonvalues  glvo  society  muji  senseware  empathy  humanism  design  kenyahara 
april 2012 by robertogreco
Edwin Himself is Edwin Negado » MUJI’s Kenya Hara speaks on “Emptiness” at Wieden+Kennedy Portland
“Earth and Human Being. There is nothing, yet everything”.

“Emptiness holds the possibility of being filled”.

“To create is not just to create an object or a phenomenon. Coming up with a question is also creation. In fact, a question that has huge receptive capacity doesn’t even need a definitive answer. Questioning is emptiness”.
kenyahara  muji  emptiness  questioning  questions  learning  process  products  product  glvo  lcproject  unschooling  deschooling  simplicity  possibility  wk  wieden+kennedy 
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Setup: Frank Chimero
"I’d like a more flexible, faster all-in-one inbox for my digital detritus. For some reason, DevonThink, Yojimbo, & Evernote aren’t cutting it for me. Tumblr is close, but not quite it. I’d like something that successfully handles images in tandem w/ text, because that’s how my brain works. I have this dream of having a management interface very similar to a hybrid of LittleSnapper & Yojimbo, & then a “serendipity engine” application for iPad. It’d be a bit like Flipboard where things are served up at random from your collection for browsing. That’s the flaw of all of these things, in my mind: they encourage you to get things in, but aren’t optimized for revisiting it in a way that lacks linearity or classification. If you’re looking to make constellations of content, I think the way your collection is presented back to you matters. I guess what I’m asking for is a digital rendition of the commonplace book, & serious rethinking of what advantages digital could provide…"
frankchimero  hardware  software  thesetup  tools  howwework  commonplacebooks  dropbox  devonthink  yojimbo  evernote  macbookair  photoshop  illustrator  muji  notebooks  tumblr  serendipity  discovery  iphone  kindle  lumixgf1  appletv  netflix  texteditor  gmail  instapaper  simplenote  rdio  itunes  reeder  2011  usesthis 
april 2011 by robertogreco
Without Thought | Metropolis Magazine
"At IDEO…international interdisciplinary team…included engineers, designers, and even a clinical psychologist."

"tossed around the idea of inviting weekly speakers to make meetings productive. Fukasawa…thought it would be more useful if team members spoke about their own philosophies & how their cultures influenced them. They all agreed on one condition: that Fukasawa go first."

"…result was a presentation on hari…Eastern philosophy, distilled down into design language…"usually translated as ‘tension,' but that’s not correct…It’s very hard to explain.” [Explains.]"

"“That’s why it was important for him to go back to Japan,” Brown says. “One of the things that released him was the ability to work and tell the story of his work in his own language. Naoto has gone from somebody who crafts objects to somebody who crafts relationships with objects.”"

“I think objects or things are shifting toward the surrounding walls for integration or otherwise into our body for integration,”
design  interview  japan  philosophy  hari  tension  naotofukasawa  glvo  ideo  via:preoccupations  reflection  identity  culture  howwework  conversation  leadership  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  language  japanese  objects  evocativeobjects  muji  simplicity  slow  presentations  meetings  relationships  socialobjects  architecture  industrialdesign  craft 
february 2011 by robertogreco
John Sculley On Steve Jobs, The Full Interview Transcript | Cult of Mac
"He felt that the computer was going to change the world & it it was going to become what he called “the bicycle for the mind.” It would enable individuals to have this incredible capability that they never dreamed of before…

What makes Steve’s methodology different from everyone else’s is that he always believed the most important decisions you make are not the things you do – but the things that you decide not to do. He’s a minimalist.…

Normally you will only see a handful of software engineers who are building an operating system. People think that it must be hundreds and hundreds working on an operating system. It really isn't. It's really just a small team of people. Think of it like the atelier of an artist…

[Japanese standards are just different than ours. If you look at Apple and the attention to detail. The “open me first,” the way the box is designed, the fold lines, the quality of paper, the printing — Apple just goes to extraordinary lengths."
apple  business  stevejobs  mac  design  interview  size  groupsize  teams  managment  focus  minimalism  johnsculley  organizations  tcsnmy  computers  efficiency  via:kottke  japan  muji  experience  packaging  management  administration  lcproject 
october 2010 by robertogreco
Civil Branding » The MUJI 'Enough' message
"MUJI is not a brand...does not make products of individuality or fashion, nor...reflect popularity of its name in prices. MUJI creates products w/ view toward global consumption of the future. This means that we do not create products that lure customers into believing that “this is best” or “I must have this.” We would like our customers to feel the rational sense of satisfaction that comes not w/ “This is best,” but w/ “this is enough”. “Best” becomes “enough”.

[See also: http://doblog.tumblr.com/post/167472813/ AND http://doblog.tumblr.com/post/640466040/enough AND
full text: http://craightonberman.tumblr.com/post/444105012/the-future-of-muji ]
muji  enough  sustainability  harmony  disharmony  branding  marketing  purpose  tcsnmy  consumption  future  mission  message  unproduct  postconsumerism  postmaterialism 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Modern boys and mobile girls | Books | The Observer
"For sci-fi author William Gibson, Japan has been a lifelong inspiration. Here, the writer who coined the phrase 'cyberspace', explains why no other country comes closer to the future... or makes better toothpaste" ... "Why Japan, then? Because they live in the future, but neither yours nor mine, and somehow make it seem either interesting or comical or really interestingly dreadful. Because they are capable of naming an après-sport drink Your Water. Because they build museum-grade reproductions of the MA-1 flight jacket that require prospective owners to be on waiting lists for several years before one even has a chance of possibly, one day, owning the jacket. Because they can say to you, with absolute seriousness, believing that it means something, 'I like your lifestyle!'"
culture  muji  cyberpunk  japan  tokyo  technology  subculture  scifi  2001  williamgibson  books  future  otaku  interview 
may 2010 by robertogreco
Pasta&Vinegar » Matt Jones on mujicomp and mujicompfrastructures at Technoark
"Matt Jones gave a talk called “people are walking architecture“...he introduced the notion of “Mujicomp”, a portmanteau word made of “Muji” (the japanese retail company which sells a wide variety of household and consumer goods) and “Computing”. What does it mean?

According to Jones, the idea of “mujicomp” revolved around the notion that ubiquitous computing needs to “become sexy and desirable… able to be appreciated as cultural design objects rather than technology… they should be tasteful, simple, clear, clean, contemporary, affordable in order to be invited into the home“. If designers and engineers want to “make smart cities bottom up with products and not academic ubiquitous computing which are always postponed“, he argued that ubicomp will need some “muji”. And of course, as shown by Jone’s use of the quote from Eliel Saarinen, “always design a thing by considering it in its larger context… a chair in a room, a room in a house, a house in an environment“."

[See also: http://berglondon.com/blog/2010/05/18/people-are-walking-architecture-or-making-nearlynets-with-mujicomp/ ]
mattjones  nicolasnova  mujicomp  cities  architecture  ubicomp  design  muji  janejacobs  infrastructure  clayshirky  data  accessibility  approachability  culture  objects  simplicity  elielsaarinen  urban  urbanism  perma-net  nearly-net  systems 
february 2010 by robertogreco
Stuff I love: Muji Chronotebook — jackcheng.com
"The chronotebook was a judges’ prize winner in last year’s Muji Award International Design Competition and is available in Muji stores across the globe. The notebook chucks out the gridularity of the typical day planner and puts an analog clock in the middle of the page."
srg  glvo  notebooks  organization  productivity  muji  planning  calendar  chronotebook 
october 2008 by robertogreco
The Moment The Post-Materialist | Muji Obsession « - T Magazine - New York Times Blog
"William Gibson really nailed its appeal: “It calls up a wonderful Japan that doesn’t really exist, a Japan of the mind, where even toenail-clippers and plastic coat-hangers possess a Zen purity: functional, minimal, reasonably priced.""
japan  culture  design  momus  muji  nicholsonbaker  williamgibson  postmaterialism  materialism 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Zen and the Art of Selling Minimalism
"Muji, Japan's unbranded Ikea-cum-Target, is planning its first outlet in America"
design  japan  muji  homes  products  household 
march 2007 by robertogreco

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