MUJI a life-oriented philosophy

By He Jianwei (Beijing Today)
Updated: 2008-03-17 14:26

MUJI recently opened its first Beijing shop at Joy City Xidan, its third shop on the mainland. The Japanese brand had considerable success here. Its Chinese fans believe MUJI is an attitude towards life: simple and natural.

MUJI has expanded its product line from an initial dozen offerings to 7,000 items since its founding in 1980. Its catalog ranges from toothbrushes to automobiles, and from food to electrical appliances. It has 20 shops in China, including one in Beijing, two in Shanghai, six in Hong Kong and 11 in Taiwan Province.

“The company’s designers adhere to environmental protectn and simplicity. They usually draw inspiration from nature,” Kanai Masaaki, president of Ryohin Keikaku, said. “A drop of water may give them inspiration. The important thing is to delete the complicated and to retain the simple.”Fans in China share MUJI’s philosophy of design and its philosophy of life.

“I love MUJI’s no-brand branding. I don’t like products with big logos, which look silly,” Liu Fang, an accountasaid.

In Japan, a good design with no branding is almost certainly from the MUJI line.

Ikko Tanaka, one of the founders, coined the term “Mujirushi Ryohin” in the 1980s when the Japanese market was full of foreignrands. “Mujirushi” represents the simplicity of its packaging and manufacturing process, as well as its brand-free characteristic. “Ryohin” is derived from MUJI predecessor Seiyu Supermarket’s commitment to provide ty products.

“Although MUJI has no logo on its products, it has created classic slogans like ‘Salmon - all parts edible,’ ‘Undecorated Love’ and ‘Nature, Natural, MUJI,’ created by Ikko Tanaka and Kazuko Koike (crdirector of MUJI). All these convey the spirit of MUJI,” she said

Limits of colors

“I love MUJI’s simple colors. I don’t like too many colors in my room and MUJI’s products are simple,” Chen Di, a magazine editor,

In the 1980s, designers adopted the standard colors black, white and khaki. Except for the red MUJI logo, no products are made in colors other than brown, white, beige, black, blue and metallic silver.

“The colors of is products are natural,” he said.Simplicity

“Everything MUJI makes, from toothbrushes to office chairs, is designed to fulfill its purpose neatly and perfectly,” Wang Hui, an IT consultant, saidThe production process is also simplified. All of MUJI’s paper products are made of unbleached recycled paper that looks slightly yellowed.“It highlights the awareness of environmental protection and preserves the natural and original deign,” Wang said.Famous designers

MUJI is powered by a dream team of 15 full-time designers and guest designers from all around the world.

The famous wall-mounted CD player is the work of Naoto Fukasawa, one member of the design advisory board. The CD player won the Good Design Award in 2000.

A seemingly ordinary electric fan is designed by IDEO’s former Europe chief designer Sam Hecht.Most Chinese fans know the designers first and the products second. “Kenya Hara and Naoto Fukasawa are two masters in the design industry. As a student in graphic design, they are my idols,” Yuan Yuxiang, a student in the Central Academy of Fine Arts, said“I realy love Hara’s concept of ‘emptiness,’ which was illustrated in the 2003 Perfect Horizons Series. The idea is that if a person suddenly appears on the horizon, there is nothing there except the human and the surroundinnvironment, and those are the only important elements,” he said


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