Discovering MUJI

To my surprise, it was a year ago today that I discovered and read the Muji Message. I loved it so much, I saved it as a note on my phone, afraid that I would want to read it at a later time and that it would be unavailable as things change on a company website. It’s still there. Here’s what I saved last year on December 23, 2009:

The Future of MUJI

MUJI is not a brand. MUJI does not make products of individuality or fashion, nor does MUJI reflect the popularity of its name in its prices. MUJI creates products with a 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 with “this is best,” but with “this is enough.” “Best” becomes “enough.”

There are degrees of “enough,” however. MUJI aims to raise the standard of “enough” to the greatest extent possible. “Best” contains a faint amount of egoism and disharmony, but in “enough” we sense restraint and compromise. On the other hand, “enough” might contain a sense of resignation and a slight amount of dissatisfaction. So by raising the bar of what denotes “enough,” we cast away that resignation and slight dissatisfaction; we create a new dimension of “enough” to attain a clear and heart-felt “This is enough.” That is MUJI’s vision. To that end, MUJI continually revamps as many as 7,500 items as we deliver new MUJI quality.

MUJI’s characteristic trait is economy. Products born of efficient production processes are simple, yet they do not represent minimalism as a style. That would be empty posturing. In fact, our products are so universal and accommodating precisely because they are plain and unadorned. MUJI is known for conservation of natural resources, low prices, simplicity, anonymity and an orientation toward nature. We embrace all of these attributes without placing disproportionate emphasis on any of them.

As has often been noted, environmental issues concerning the future of humankind and the planet have long moved beyond the point of a change in consciousness and education to the stage at which we must consider what effective actions to take in our daily lives. What is more, today’s clash of civilizations demonstrates that we are approaching a limit to the pursuit of profit guaranteed by free economies, and that we have reached the point at which cultures cannot exist in harmony with one another by solely emphasizing their own distinctiveness. The world of the future requires that we reason and restrain our self-interest rather than prioritize exclusive profit and individual cultural values. Unless we adopt values informed by moderation and self-restraint, the world will find itself at an impasse. All people living today deep down are probably already beginning to consider greater self-restraint as a way of life. Founded in 1980, MUJI has from the beginning confronted these issues. And we have no plans to change.

The products that surround us in our daily lives today seem to have polarized. On the one side are products that strive to be unique through the use of novel materials or attractive forms. They give the impression of scarcity and brand name value, creating groups of followers who welcome pricey objects. On the other side are products whose prices are lowered to the limit. These products are made utilizing cheap materials and production processes simplified to the bare bones in countries where labor comes cheap.

MUJI is neither of these. From the beginning, MUJI eschewed design, but we learned early on that crimping creativity does not lead to superior products. In its search for the best materials, manufacturing methods and forms, MUJI strives to base its design on the true nature of the material making up a product.

On the one hand, MUJI does not just aspire to lower prices. We simplify our processes to entirely eliminate waste, but we carefully select and incorporate quality materials and processing technologies. Put simply, we create quality at low cost for smart purchases.

Like a compass that points north, MUJI continues to point the way to the basics and constants of our daily lives.