More, From Less

MUJI as inspiration for our work

I’ve been toting around the most recent Harvard Business Review since it landed in my office several weeks ago– I kept meaning to get to it. Mainly, I wanted to be sure to take adequate time to digest “How I Did It” by Masaaki Kanai, chairman of Ryohin Keikaku– parent company of MUJI.

Now, you may have no idea what MUJI is, but trust me- you will.

MUJI is a line of sustainably designed, inexpensive, nondescript, non-branded  housewares and clothing, launched in 1980. Chances are, unless you live near a booming university town or a major metropolitan area, you’ve never stepped foot inside a MUJI store. And you certainly haven’t seen their advertisements, because they don’t believe in them.

I first discovered MUJI when I was living in Brooklyn Heights, outside New York. I stepped into their Manhattan store and immediately was taken by their minimalist concept. And anyone who knows me knows that I am anything but a minimalist.

But MUJI was different. It was so decidedly practical, and, well– necessary. Every item I saw, I thought I needed. Including their fashion. On that first visit alone, I purchased $300 in tee shirts, socks, a toothbrush holder and travel gear, a sweater for my wife, poncho, and two scarves that had been conveniently shrink-wrapped to the size of a Rubik’s cube.

As I strolled the store that day, I never realized that that my overpriced suit and shoes and topcoat and briefcase were the height of contradiction. I longed for the MUJI simplicity, and I decided to partake in all they had to offer.

Kanai credits the store’s universal (and now global) success to this concept, I like to say that MUJI goods should be like water: of universal appeal.” He also credits the adherence to a “uniform vision and execution” as key to MUJI’s success.

Kanai goes on to say, “Our aim is not to grow as large as we can. It is to be tenacious in our quest to deliver on the MUJI promise and to be of use in the lives of people around the world.” (Harvard Business Review, Jan-Feb 2018)

How are we doing?

It got me to thinking: how are you doing in this area? Are you delivering on your company’s promises, and are you helpful to people around the world? Regardless of your product or sales category, your quest is to make an impact in the world, but primarily, in an individual’s life. In one life.

Kanai’s challenge is a good one, and I hope the simple concept of MUJI can inspire you to discover anew your mission and then, go boldly (or in MUJI’s case, simply) in the direction of your purpose.


You can read “How I Did It” by clicking here:

Author: wolffgeo

Creative Director directing Creativity Creatively.

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