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(), or is a Japanese retail company which sells a wide variety of household and consumer goods. Muji's design philosophy is minimalist, and it places an emphasis on recycling, reducing production and packaging waste, and a no-logo or "no-brand" policy. The name Muji is derived from the first part of ''Mujirushi Ryōhin'', translated as ''No-Brand Quality Goods'' on Muji's European website.MUJI Online - ABOUT MUJI
retrieved on 2009-10-02.


Products and businesses

Muji started with only 40 products in the 1980s. Some of their products include pens, pencils, notebooks, storage units, apparel, kitchen appliances, food items, and household care products. Muji has also created an automobile. Muji storefronts such as the one in New York City, New York are large and stocked with nearly every single product available. The primary business also includes Café Muji, Meal Muji, Muji Campsite, florist and home furnishing; the company has also engaged in architectural projects such as Muji House. By the end of the 2000s, Muji was selling more than 7,000 different products. It is positioned as a "reasonably priced" brand, keeping the retail prices of products "lower than usual" by the materials it selects, streamlining its manufacturing processes, and minimising packaging.Ryohin Keikaku,
What is MUJI?
, retrieved on 2009-10-02.
Muji has opened hotels in Shenzhen, Beijing, and Ginza, Tokyo.


History

Mujirushi (no-brand) Ryōhin (quality goods) began as a product brand of the supermarket chain The Seiyu, Ltd. in December 1980. The Mujirushi Ryōhin product range was developed to offer affordable quality products and were marketed using the slogan “Lower priced for a reason.” Products were wrapped in clear cellophane, plain brown paper labels and red writing. Mujirushi Ryōhin's drive to cut retail prices for consumers saw the company cutting waste by, for example, selling U-shaped spaghetti, the left-over part that is cut off to sell straight spaghetti. In 1981, Seiji Tsutsumi, the president of the Seibu Ryutsu group proposed opening a dedicated shop for Mujirushi Ryōhin products, although the idea was rejected by the directors of Seiyu. The advisory board of the company supported the idea, proposing the idea of a shop positioned against mass production. The company began to develop products that would allow the shop to expand from a supermarket product range to an independent product company. Such products included food, clothing, stationery, and household goods. In 1983, the first directly operated Mujirushi Ryōhin store opened in Aoyama, Tokyo, Aoyama, Tokyo. In 1985, Mujirushi Ryōhin started overseas production and procurement, started to place direct factory orders in 1986, and in 1987 Muji started to develop material globally. In 1989, Ryohin Keikaku Ltd became the manufacturer and retailer for all Mujirushi Ryōhin products and operations, including planning, development, production, distribution and sale. In 1991, Mujirushi Ryōhin opened its first international store in London. In 1995, shares in “Muji Tsunan Campsite” were registered as over-the-counter shares of Japan Securities Dealers Association. In 1998, Ryōhin Keikaku listed on the second section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. From 2001 onwards, it was listed on the first section.Ryohin Keikaku
History
retrieved on 2009-10-02. (This English-language history anachronistically refers to the company as "Muji" before "Muji" was used as a brand name.)
In April 2001 they issued the Muji Car 1000 (ムジ・カー 1000), a limited release of 1,000 badgeless and decontented Nissan Micra#K11, Nissan Marches, only available online. Intended as an exercise to test their online marketing systems it was developed together with Nissan. The spartanly equipped little car (with the rear seat upholstered in vinyl, for instance) was only offered in "marble white". The brand name "Muji" appears to have been used since around 1999. In 2020 and 2021, Muji faced scrutiny over use of cotton produced in under conditions of Xinjiang internment camps, forced labor in Xinjiang. Muji subsequently stopped labelling goods as "Xinjiang cotton" in certain markets, such as Hong Kong. In December 2021, it was reported that the same Muji garment labelled simply as "organic cotton" in the Hong Kong, Taiwanese, and Japanese markets was still being sold by Muji under the "Xinjiang cotton" banner in China.


Countries of operation

In Japan, Ryohin Keikaku has 328 directly operated stores, and supplies 124 outlets, .Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd. , Corporate Information
retrieved on 2017-08-24.
Ryohin Keikaku has three factory outlets at Osaka, Gotenba and Fukuoka, Fukuoka, Fukuoka.Muji, the Japanese design powerhouse, is opening U.S. stores. Hallelujah!
See als
MUJI Global
retrieved on 2009-10-02.
There are 505 International retail outlets , which include UK (12), Finland (1), France (7), Italy (8), Germany (7), Republic of Ireland, Ireland (1), Sweden (1), Spain (6), Turkey (2), Poland (1), Portugal (1), United States (17), Canada (8), Hong Kong (19), Singapore (11), Malaysia (7), South Korea (30), Mainland China (264), Taiwan (51), Thailand (17), Australia (5), Indonesia (6), Philippines (5), Bahrain (3), Kuwait (2), Qatar (2), Saudi Arabia (4), UAE (5), Oman (1), India (4), Switzerland (1), Vietnam (2).


American Operations

Muji opened its first American store on November 16, 2007, in SoHo, Manhattan. In 2008, it opened two more stores in Manhattan: one in Times Square, and one in Chelsea, Manhattan, Chelsea. On November 30, 2012, it opened its first store on the West Coast in South of Market, San Francisco. In New York City, Muji supplies products to a design store at the Museum of Modern Art and maintains a flagship store. , there are 5 stores in Manhattan, one in northern New Jersey, one in Boston, 6 stores in California, and one in Portland. A small branch is at JFK International Airport, and another location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has been announced, but is yet to open. In July 2020, Muji USA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing shutdowns from the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, COVID-19 pandemic.


No-brand branding

Muji's ''no-brand'' strategy (generic brand) means that little money is spent on advertisement or classical marketing, and Muji's success is attributed to word of mouth, a simple shopping experience, and the anti-brand movement. Muji's no-brand strategy also means its products are attractive to customers who prefer unbranded products for aesthetic reasons, and because it provides an alternative to traditional branded products. In terms of Muji's advertising of their products, Kenya Hara states that because customers perceived Muji in different ways, advertising would have to used to present information rather than to communicate a message. These customer perceptions included liking Muji's ecological approach, appreciation for their urban aesthetics, a perception of low cost, and a perception of sophisticated design. Muji has released a T-shirt with a rubber square on the chest for customers to design their own logo or message.useful + agreeable
retrieved by the Wayback Machine on 2009-05-27.
Muji now sells paper products (such as notebooks) which can be personalized by customers using rubber stamps in-store at no charge. They also sell soft goods (such as T-shirts and hats) which can be Machine embroidery, computer embroidered to customer specifications, and picked up a few hours or days later.


Design

Muji is known for its distinctive design, which is extended throughout its more than 7,000 products. Commentators have described Muji's design style as having mundanity, being "no-frills", being "minimalist", and "Bauhaus-style". Muji product design, and brand identity, is based around the selection of materials, streamlined manufacturing processes, and minimal packaging. Muji products have a limited colour range and are displayed on shelves with minimal packaging, displaying only functional product information and a price tag. Detailed instructions included with the product are usually printed only in Japanese, although multilingual translations are starting to be included with some products.


Design approach and production

On its corporate website, Ryohin Keikaku Ltd rationalises its principles in terms of producing high quality products at "lower than usual" retail prices, true to the original Muji marketing slogan "lower priced for a reason". On its catalogue website Muji states that "at the heart of Muji design is the Japanese concept of ''Kanketsu'', the concept of simplicity", aiming to "bring a quiet sense of calm into strenuous everyday lives".Muji Online - About Muji
retrieved on 2009-10-02.
In an interview, Hiroyoshi Azami, President of Muji USA, described Muji's design culture as centred around designing "simple" products that are basic and necessary. In its design, Muji also follows environmental guidelines, seeking to "restrict the use of substances that may have a significant impact on people or the environment" and "reduce waste by standardising modules, facilitating disassembly, and by reducing packaging". The Muji design process resists technology for its own sake, and prototype designs are produced on paper rather than computers, so as not to encourage unnecessary detail.TAXI: Direct Access - GAIN: AIGA Business and Design Conference
, retrieved on 2009-10-02.
The manufacturing process is determined by the consumer's use of the product, which is a design priority. Finishes, lines, and forms are minimised for manufacturing ease.MoMA Store - MUJI Designer Bio
, retrieved on 2009-10-02.
In recent years, Muji have looked towards appreciating local culture and craftsmanship. The Found Muji line of products is a movement where Muji's designers find products and designs that follow the company's design approach, focusing on crafts and items that are used globally.


Designers

Muji products are not attributed to individual designers. While Muji has stated that some of its products have been the works of famous international designers, it does not disclose who they are. There are, however, some designers who made their involvement public. The most notable are Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison, James Irvine (designer), James Irvine,Muji presents a new collection
, retrieved on 2010-10-08
Sam Hecht, and Konstantin Grcic, Konstantin Grčić. Muji participates in design collaborations with other companies. In 2001, Muji and Nissan Motors produced the Muji Car 1000. This fuel efficient, low-emission, and low-cost limited edition vehicle aimed to incorporate recycled materials wherever possible. Following Muji's no-brand strategy, the car had no branding logos.


Manufacturers

Generally, Muji keeps its manufacturing sources private. One notable exception is the brand's collaboration with Thonet GmbH, Thonet, the oldest German furniture maker. In 2008, Muji and Thonet announced their cooperation to produce two lines of minimalist furniture. The first was bentwood chairs designed by James Irvine (designer), James Irvine in homage to the iconic No. 14 chair of Thonet. The second was steel tubular chairs and desks designed by Konstantin Grčić. Roland Ohnacker, managing director of Thonet, stated that the aim was "to help 18 to 35 year-olds enter the Thonet brand world". From Spring 2009, these furniture are available at selected Muji stores.


Directors

The first art director of Muji was Ikko Tanaka. Tanaka is credited with developing the Muji concept together with Kazuko Koike (marketing consultant), and Takashi Sugimoto (interior designer). Tanaka articulated the Muji vision and appearance, and he provided ideas and prototypes that visualized the design strategy. In 2001, Kenya Hara, an internationally recognized graphic designer and curator, took over as art director. He stated that:
"I found that the company was at a standstill with the original idea, 'No design', which was advocated at its inception. They also had more than 250 outlets and sold more than 5,000 items, including products that deviated from the initial Muji concept or were low cost, but of substandard quality."Getting Gross with Devin Flynn
, retrieved on 2009-10-02.
Kenya Hara has been credited as key figure in further developing Muji. Hara has a background in graphic design, hence had experience in designing packaging and corporate identities. Beyond that, he is credited with significantly moulding the Muji brand and design identity. In an interview in 2005, Hara stated that "Everything in the world has become an object of interest for me. Everything is designed." Hara has published books on design philosophy, most recently ''Designing Design''.Designing Design
, Hara, Kenya, 2nd printing, 2008, 467 p. 389 illus., 326 in color., Dustjacket , .
Sam Hecht, Creative Director of Muji Europe, is quoted as saying "The human is not the centre of everything, but on the same level of everything".


Design awards and competition

In 2005, Muji was awarded five gold product design awards by the International Forum Design in Germany. In 2006, Muji held its first international design competition, “Muji Award 01”. In 2007, Chen Jiaojiao published a book on Muji design and brand entitled "Brands A-Z: Muji".


Following

The Berlin correspondent for ''The New York Times'' reports that the Japanese people, Japanese call Muji-fans “Mujirers”. Muji's international stores and The Muji Catalogue mainly retail Muji home consumer goods, furniture and clothing, while Muji Japan sells in a wide range of sectors, including food, bicycles, camp sites, phones, yoga, florists, cafes, and concept houses.Nick Currie,
The Post-Materialist | Muji Obsession
, ''The New York Times'', 6 June 2008; retrieved on 2009-10-02. The Japanese term is in fact ''mujirā'' (); see for exampl

of fashion-j.com.


References


External links

; Official Websites
www.muji.net
Official Japanese site
www.muji.com
Global site
Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.
Corporate site ; Unofficial Materials
"MUJI: The Japanese brand without a brand"


-(''New York Times'' article on Muji in MoMa)
Interview with Shoji Ito, Design and Art director of MUJI
{{Authority control Japanese companies established in 1980 Companies listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange Japanese brands Retail companies based in Tokyo Retail companies established in 1980 Clothing brands of Japan 1998 initial public offerings Companies that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2020