I still remembered the moment when I dropped by MUJI’s store for the first time. It was three years ago and all the daily products such as garment, fans, bottles, etc. were designed and displayed in an innovative manner, which, at the meanwhile, arouse your memories from the past. MUJI’s design philosophy is simple, but strong. The products are designed on a deep understand of everyday life that most people take for granted.
By following their own design language, the MUJI Award International Design Competition in China 04 was another similar, yet exciting design event held by MUJI. 4824 works from 49 countries were submitted and the committee selected two gold prize, five bronze prize, ten jury’s prize and 18 winning work. The award ceremony was held at the Shanghai Vanke Center, China, on April 26, 2014.
Editor: Junrui Wang
Article: Yuanxiong Chen
Excerptions/Photos: Yuanxiong Chen, award.muji.net
MUJI AWARD 04 International Design Competition,
Shanghai Vanke Center, China, on April 26, 2014.
Quite different from the previous MUJI Award, the judges were split on which should be selected for the gold award, “Storage book” or “Stone Chalk”. The divided two groups energetically discussed for a long time but never came to a conclusion. “The group for ‘Storage Book’ brought a very much MUJI like solution in a casual manner to such problems that everyone has as where to store small items, providing the idea that they can be stored in a book-shaped box and can be placed upright in the bookshelf. Meanwhile, the group for ‘Stone Chalk’ brought such a playful stationery solution as it is fun to make a chalk shaped like a tone from the behavior of drawing and writing on the road surface using a stone. We couldn’t decide which is more MUJI-like, resulting in that the gold award goes to both. It was a heated discussion but peaceful one.” (Comments from Naoto Fukasawa)
Gold Prize-“Storage Book” and “Pebble Chalk”
The committee also set up 10 Jury’s prize this year in order to showcase more designs with high quality. The Japanese graphic designer Naoto Fukasawa recommended the “Paper Sink Tidy”; the German product designer Hartmut Esslinger recommended “Now, anyone can open the cap on this water bottle.”; the Chinese architect Yong Ho Chang recommended “Stack Pin”, etc.
Jury’s Prize-“Paper Sink Tidy”
Jury’s Prize-“Now, anyone can open the cap on this water bottle.”
Jury’s Prize-“Stack Pin”
Improving an every-day ordinary product that we take for granted seems to be an important strategy for MUJI. You can also say that re-designing an existing product for more simplicity, functionality, and attraction is a MUJI design. For example, the designer Turning the ordinary round water bottle cap into a square one was a minor operation by Yuying Luo, but it really improve the easiness of opening the cap for users.
Details from Mundane Life
MUJI’s products are the result of capturing and thinking about daily life. Users usually reach an extent of happiness after they discover the idea behind the products. A minor alteration can be moving if it is under a serious consideration of everyday life.
The Gold Prize work-Storage Book by a Hong Kong designer Ip Chi Chuen-clearly responded MUJI’s design philosophy.
“Sorting things” is part of our lives, but you may often have trouble finding a place to store things after sorting them. As a solution to this problem, I made a storage case shaped like a book to make it easier to decide where to place. This MUJI PP case is designed to have the same shape and size as a normal book and the spin one which an identification sticker can be attached. It is an idea where a book on a bookshelf has an ability to store things. -Ip Chi Chuen
Gold Prize-“Storage Book”
“Falling birth rates and higher prices have resulted in smaller homes with fewer rooms selling very quickly. Tiny homes with tiny footprints are becoming the mainstream in Asian real estate. This means storage is at a premium. We redesigned the concept of a door to allow for efficient storage-a door within a door offering extra storage space.” –Lu Jiajheng, Cheng Yating
Sense of Design
“Design is not ability, but the instinct to capture the essence.”- Kenya HaraWhen we are using the everyday products, we use all of our senses. MUJI was able to re-design these senses to make a better life such as Naoto Fukasawa’s MUJI CD player. When you try to make the ordinary object unfamiliar, the contrast between old and new starts to arouse people’s memory and curiosity, the magic moment comes.
“Chalk shaped like a pebble. When we were kids, we would use pebbles to draw pictures on the ground. This product brings us forward in design, yet back to a time when drawing was fun and the instrument you used provided a sense of peace and security.” – Kohei Odaka
Gold Prize-“Pebble Chalk”
“This is a puzzle where pieces can be put together by using not a picture but the sense of fingertips. The puzzle is made of five pieces with different surface quality depending on concentrations (0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100%), such as “smooth” and “rough.” I wanted to make an educational toy that not only contributes to development of sense of fingertips but also delivers its sensitivity to be shared as human knowledge.” –Kohsuke Toda
Jury’s Prize-“Touch Puzzle”
The same as shopping in the MUJI store, the MUJI Award 04 ceremony was actually a magical experience of daily life. We questioned the design at the beginning, then started to understand, and eventually gained the power to reconsider our mundane life. I think that’s the process to understand the world. During its history, MUJI had always been discovering the essentiality of the things no matter how big or small they are. Through this method, MUJI was able to make a good use of the minor differences found with their special eyes. MUJI’s success is a manifesto-Life, though ordinary, can always touch people’s heart.
Master of Architecture in College of Architecture + Urban Planning, Tongji University.
Bachelor of Architecture in College of Architecture + Urban Planning, Shenzhen University, 2011.