• Bruce Mau 

I love to MUJI

First published 2010 in Muji, a book published by Rizzoli, celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Japanese minimalist product company.

Organized by Ryohin Keikaku, with contributions by Jasper Morrison, Naota Fukasawa, and Kenya Hara. 

MUJI began as an idea. In their honest approach we discover an opening — a way to live with modesty and clarity in the spirit of beauty and intelligence.

As a company, MUJI got it right. They understood that their culture was a design project, and the design of their founding idea would design everything else they would do, including their products.

Since the beginning, they have not only believed in their idea, but also acted on their belief in the holistic possibility of design — a generous practice that connects simplicity and beauty with the intelligent efficiency of material, energy and resources. This approach to the culture of design is not only aligned with the smartest business practice and lowest cost, but also with ecology and nature.

It has been this way since the start. They applied their holistic approach, the MUJI idea, to everything they do, from the embedded intelligence and value in the products themselves, to their elegant and generous approach to communication. It all begins with simple dignity in the idea that the citizen — defined not merely as a consumer — is intelligent and empowered, and deserving of our best.

You may enter MUJI because you support their progressive mandate, or their environmental intelligence. However, you will return to MUJI again and again because you discover that everything they provide is delightful. That’s the true genius of MUJI. They embed intelligence in desire. They make smart things sexy. MUJI shows us a better way by demonstrating a new form of exuberant restraint. Advanced simplicity. Simple genius.

By creating a world in this new way, MUJI has been rewarded with a rare kind of loyalty. Because they have quietly created this new way of being in the world, they have been embraced. From 40 to over 7000 products, MUJI has expanded their offering — always true to their idea.  They continue to create more and more in this new spirit, building a world of possibility. Not by perpetuating or encouraging a cycle of consumption and waste but, rather, by encouraging a kind of consumption that is sensitive to the act of consumption itself. MUJI allows us to become aware of our own behavior, without judgment, in a way that improves our lives, that demonstrates possibility, and that adds elegance and beauty.

MUJI gives us a glimpse into a world where consumption doesn’t equate with destruction, nor pleasure with guilt. It’s fashionable to talk about how we can make things smarter but still beautiful, sexy but still environmentally responsible, but MUJI has actually done it. The power of MUJI lies in the fact that you need not know about what lies at the heart of their philosophy. Their products connect to our deepest needs, and by simply choosing to participate in their world we make ours a better place. That MUJI not only exists, but continues to thrive and grow ought to inspire optimism in anyone.

A testament to the power and importance of the founding idea is this simple fact: even after 30 years, MUJI is still a pioneer. Not an anti-brand, but a non-brand: an open space in the public imagination, a place where I can live my life as I imagine it. I can define my world in a way that is not dominated by the cultural signal of others. I can hear myself think. I can live free. In a world dominated by domination, this idea is so unique, so unorthodox, that we still have no language for it. MUJI exists in a category all on its own.

Perhaps MUJI is a verb: I love to MUJI.